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Walk A Winding Road

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In the end, she has to leave. The bunker is clearly home to her boys, although maybe not quite the same way the Impala is, but they’re comfortable there. She sees it in the way that the tension drains out of Sam when he sprawls at the big table, in the way that Dean sighs with pleasure when he opens the fridge to grab a beer.

 

She’s glad for that—glad that they have a small slice of stability in an uncertain world.

 

But it’s not hers, not in the way the house in Lawrence is—no, was.

 

In Mary’s eyes, home is that place she and John and scrimped and saved to buy, complete with the white picket fence, bright sunny kitchen, and two bright, adorable children. She remembers how Dean would lean against her trustingly as she fed Sammy, watching his brother with bright green eyes. How he would light up when John came home in the evening, how John would toss him into the air.

 

She remembers how John would hold Sammy in the crook of his arm, and pick Dean up with the other, and their rich laughter as he spun them gently around.

 

The sounds in the bunker are different—the rustle of pages as Sam reads a book, or the click of computer keys. There’s the sound of Dean humming in the kitchen, or the thud of his boots on the table when he puts his feet up just to annoy Sam.

 

Her little boys are men now, and Mary didn’t even get a chance to see them grow, to have a hand in their raising. And the journal—well, it says everything and nothing.

 

There are details about John’s hunts, but nothing about when Sam first learned to walk, or Dean’s first day at school, or anything that she really wants to know.

 

The things a mother needs to know.

 

And all the time, there’s a sense that she did this to them; she made a deal with the demon to bring John back from the dead.

 

Maybe Dean and Sam wouldn’t have existed at all if she hadn’t, but what kind of life had she doomed them to live?

 

So, she has to leave, to get some space, to wrap her brain around the way the world has radically changed in the last thirty-odd years.

 

Mary takes the phone Sam presses on her and tries not to let on how much Dean’s rejection hurts. She can’t blame him, not really, but it still hurts to remember the affectionate child he’d been.

 

Of course, she’s left him before. She has no one but herself to blame for that, too.

 

In the end, she does the only thing she can: she starts visiting the places she remembers, to figure out how much they’ve changed. Lawrence isn’t all that different, and their house looks just the same, which is its own brand of pain, a monument to everything that might have been.

 

She visits places she’d had major hunts, places her parents had lived. She’s relieved to find that some things are the same: diners offer mostly the same food, people seem to be about the same mix of kindhearted souls and total assholes, and the basic landscape of the Midwest is still the same.

 

It’s the same and different, and Mary aches for the home that disappeared thirty years ago in fire and smoke. She wants her house, and her husband, and she wants her boys.

 

She’s jolted out of her general misery when she finds the phone she’d tucked away in her bag. Sam had spent a painstaking few hours teaching her how to use it, with the idea that she’d keep in touch.

 

But she hasn’t touched the phone in days, the battery is dead, and she has no clue where the charger is.

 

There’s a part of her that considers throwing the phone away, just disappearing, but she remembers the look on Dean’s face as she left, and she can’t.

 

Dean, who had a sweetness to him as a child, who had hugged and kissed her with abandon.

 

And Sam, who had brought her tea and said she filled in the biggest blank.

 

She stops at a mall and finds a store that has cell phones in the window. A young woman greets her. “Can I help you?”

 

Mary offers an apologetic smile. “I seem to have lost my cell phone charger, and my kids are going to kill me for not staying in touch.”

 

“Can I see your phone?” she asks. Her nametag says “Regan,” which seems like an odd name for a girl. “We have plenty of charger cables that will work with this model. It’s no problem at all!”

 

Mary smiles. “Thank you. I feel pretty hopeless with all of this.”

 

“You’ve never had a smart phone before?” Regan asks.

 

“No,” Mary says. “I’m a bit of a Luddite.”

 

“So is my mom,” Regan replies. “Don’t worry about it. I forgive her for it, and I’m sure your kids will, too.”

 

Mary thinks about Dean and hitches a shoulder. “I don’t know about that.”

 

“Well, just make sure you text or call as soon as you get the phone plugged in, and I’m sure you’ll be fine,” Regan replies. “And tell them that you lost your charger. They’ll get it.”

 

“Thanks for everything,” Mary replies. “You’ve been a huge help.”

 

She goes back to her motel room and plugs in the phone, immediately seeing the text messages Sam and Dean had left. Sam’s messages are worded carefully, tentatively seeking reassurance that she’s fine.

 

Dean’s, on the other hand—

 

Hi mom, just checking in. Is MOM still okay or weird? Should I call you Mary?

 

Her heart lurches in her chest, and she remembers Dean as a boy—so easily hurt, so easy to teach. The barest hint of disapproval had him toeing the line.

 

She quickly types out an explanation: Hey, Dean, phone died, didn’t have a charger. Things are good. And then she says, I’ll always be MOM. Tell Sam I love you boys.

 

Mary thinks she knows Dean well enough to know he’s unlikely to pass on the message, but her words hadn’t been for Sam, because she can tell Sam she loves him herself. No, it’s the fact that Dean will accept her words better when couched as a message to his brother.

 

Mary stares up at the water-stained ceiling of her motel room and wonders when the sense of dislocation will fade, when she’ll start feeling at home again. She wants to be a mom again. She wants to give her boys all the mothering they’d missed.

 

And god, she misses home.

 

She closes her eyes tightly, willing back the tears, and takes a deep breath.

 

Just a few more loose ends, she thinks. Just a few more winding roads to walk, and then I’ll make a new home for myself, no matter what it takes.

 

Her boys need her, and Mary can’t let them down, not again.