Jessie stared down at her fingernails in the sunshine, seeing the colorful polish glisten in the light. Each of her nails had a rainbow painted on it, except for two, which where both purple instead. Ms. Jane said they were different because they were 'accent colors.' And Jessie really liked those. Purple was her favorite color. Besides rainbow, of course.
“Thanks for taking me to get my nails done, Ms. Jane,” Jessie said, lifting her head to look at the pretty lady next to her.
Ms. Jane was driving her big silver car with Jessie in the passenger seat beside her. For the first time since Jessie could remember, it was just the two of them. No daddies or papas or uncles or boys. Today was a girl's day. Ms. Jane glanced down at Jess and smiled a big lovely smile.
“You're very welcome, Guapa,” she replied, “I'm glad you enjoyed it.”
Jessie smiled back. 'Guapa' had been her nickname from Ms. Jane for a long time. Jess didn't really know what it meant, but she liked hearing Ollie's mom say it all the time. Her voice was so pretty when she talked like that... A new song suddenly came on the radio and it made Ms. Jane gasp. She reached over to turn up the dial, making the noise grow louder.
“This song always reminds me of you, Cielo,” Ms. Jane hummed, brushing some of Jess's hair away from her face.
Again, Jess smiled and hunkered down bashfully into her seat. It was really nice of Ms. Jane to say that. Jess knew the song playing because uncle Dean used to play it in the bunker all the time. It was a Beatles song; one of her favorites. “Here Comes the Sun.” The idea of Ms. Jane thinking of her when it came on made Jess feel so good. Because it was such a pretty song. Man, Ms. Jane was the nicest lady ever. Jessie really hoped that she would grow up to be as sweet, pretty, and kind as her.
Although no one said anything about it this morning, Jessica knew what was going on. Today was her birthday. She was ten years old today – finally the same age as Jude and Ollie again, and she was glad that they couldn't tease her about being little anymore – only no one had wished her a happy birthday yet. Papa woke her up this morning and sent her out with Ms. Jane instead. The two girls went shopping, had brunch, and got their nails done. But now, they were driving somewhere. Everybody was probably trying to pretend that today wasn't Jessica's birthday for some reason. But that was dumb. Because Jessica already knew about the party they were going to have at the park. She saw it in a dream a few months ago...
But even though Jessie knew about the party, she didn't say anything. Usually, when she mentioned something about her dreams, everyone else was disappointed that she already knew about it. And Jessie didn't like it when they got those sad looks on their faces. So she kept the little bit about the party to herself. She was ready to act surprised if Ms. Jane took her to the park. Ms. Jane had done so many fun things with her today and Jess was so happy to just spend time with her.
Over the high dashboard of Ms. Jane's silver car, Jess could see that they were on a familiar road. The park was just around the corner and Jessie could feel her tummy getting all bubbly with excitement. While she liked having time with Ms. Jane, Jessie really missed all her boys. Her family was the best family ever, because the people in it were so funny and sweet. She couldn't wait to see them all again, especially for her birthday. Ms. Jane slowly pulled into the park entrance and gave out a large fake gasp.
“Oh my, what's this?” she asked, glancing between Jessica and the windshield.
Jessie could feel a ginormous smile on her own face when she stretched up in the seat to see the decorations in the distance. Rainbow colored balloons where dancing in the breeze, tied to a picnic table full of gifts and food. Everyone in Jessie's family was scattered around the place – even uncle Bobby, uncle Crowley, and Auntie Rowena! Uncle Bobby's three dogs were chasing Dickie around the slide nearby and uncle Dean and uncle Cassie were spreading food out on the table. But Daddy, Papa, Jude, and Ollie were all waving at Ms. Jane's car as it rolled up close, wearing party hats and smiles. Jessica felt like her whole soul was smiling! Even though she knew it was going to happen, seeing it in person was so much better! She couldn't wait to get out of the car and hug everyone!
“It's my birthday party!” Jess squealed to Ms. Jane.
Ms. Jane let out a laugh as she turned off the car, seeming happy for her. Jude and Ollie came up to open Jessie's door for her, letting her out and welcoming her with a giant hug.
“Happy birthday, Jessie!” Jude smiled, nearly picking her up with a squeeze.
Jessie giggled into her cousin's ear and hugged him back, feeling so happy. She and Jude were almost the exact same height, now. Plus, Jude was always so strong, just like uncle Dean. When Jude sat Jess back down, Ollie hugged her next. His hug was softer, more like a pat on the back than a monster hug. But Jessie actually liked it a little better. Ollie was always so sweet and nice, just like his mommy.
“Yeah, happy birthday, Jessie. I like all your rainbow stuff,” Ollie said, pointing toward all the decorations, “It reminds me of Freddie.”
Jess giggled again. Freddie was Ollie's stuffed unicorn; the one he had ever since he turned five. And he was right. The rainbow decorations reminded Jess of Freddie's unicorn, too. Just as Jess was about to say thanks to her boys, Dickie came running to jump up and down in front of her. She figured that the little doggie was wishing her a happy birthday too, so Jess picked him up to hug him like the rest of the guys. Dickie licked her face and whimpered, acting like a proud puppy.
“Thanks, Dickie,” Jessie grinned, looking up to her boys, “and thank you guys. I'm so glad to see -”
“There she is!”
Jessica looked up in wonder to see Papa barreling toward her. His arms were open and his shaggy golden hair was tossing around in the wind when he ran up to scoop Jess into a big hug. A squealing giggle left Jessie's smiling mouth when she felt Papa lift her up. Dickie wiggled frantically between them like he was confused and excited all at once.
“My sunshine-honeydew-bunny rabbit!” Papa chuckled, holding her tight and spinning around, making her dangling feet fly, “Oh, look how pretty you are! I love you so much! How can you look so grown up when you're just a baby?”
“Papa, I'm ten,” Jessie argued, still fighting giggles.
“Nope,” Papa snapped with a grin, pausing his spinning to stare down at Jess with a pretty smile, “You're still a baby. You're my baby. And you're gonna be my baby forever and ever. Got it, sweetheart?”
Jess stared up into her Papa's big golden eyes and nodded. Yep. She didn't mind to be his baby forever. He was the best Papa in the whole world and she wanted him to be happy always. Papa nodded back and planted a sweet kiss to Jess's cheek before sitting her back on her feet. He stepped back so that Daddy could walk up and give her a 'happy birthday' hug, too. Even though Daddy knelt down on one knee, he was still taller than Jess. He was wearing a gentle and proud look when he pulled her into a hug, wrapping both arms around her like a blanket. Jess buried her face into Daddy's long soft hair and took a big sniff, enjoying the smell of his scent. Daddy always gave the most comfortable hugs...
“Happy birthday, Jessie,” he whispered.
“Thanks, Daddy,” Jess replied.
After a few more seconds of gentle hug time, Daddy raised his head to look down at Jess's face. Jessica admired her dad's expression, noticing that his eyes were starting to squint and his mouth was turning downward.
“... You already knew about this, didn't you?” he mumbled quietly.
Jessie didn't want to pop Daddy's happy bubble, but she gave him a tiny nod anyway.
“Yeah,” she whispered, “but I still love it.”
She and Daddy shared a secret wink – the kind that was just for the two of them – before kissing her cheek and standing back up. Papa stepped closer again to take Jess's hand and gently pull her toward the table behind them.
“Come and say hi to your ol' uncle Bobby, baby bunny,” Papa said, “The poor guy's been dying to see you all day.”
Just when Papa spoke, uncle Bobby looked up from the table to see them and a big smile filled his whole face. More excitement bubbled in Jess's tummy as she raced up to him with her arms open. It had been a few months since she last saw uncle Bobby and his Crowley, and it seemed like they were just as happy to see her, too.
“Hiya, uncle Bobby!” Jess sang, running up to hug his pudgy belly.
Uncle Bobby gave a hardy chuckle and patted her back, sounding as jolly as Santa Clause.
“Hey there, darlin',” he smiled from behind his beard, “I heard today was your birthday so I figured I'd bring as many folks as I could. And some gifts while I was at it.”
Jess giggled at uncle Bobby's playful wink. Uncle Crowley came strolling up a second or two later to give Jess a soft look from above.
“Hello again, child,” he purred in an accent much different from Ms. Jane's, “I see you're finally starting to put those Winchester genes to use. You've grown nearly a foot since I last saw you.”
“Yep,” Jessie nodded, “uncle Cassie is keeping track of it in the kitchen doorway.”
“How very charming,” uncle Crowley mumbled, though he didn't seem amused.
“Oooh! There's the birthday lass!”
Jessica turned around just in time to see Auntie Rowena swoop down with a big hug. She was wearing a flowy black and purple dress that almost smothered Jess. The little girl smiled again as she wrapped her arms around Auntie Rowena's tiny body. Man, she was getting so many hugs today! Did everybody get this many hugs on their birthday?
“Yer as pretty as a church bell on Sunday,” Auntie Rowena sighed, standing back up to touch Jessie's face.
“Says the witch who practices dark magic,” uncle Crowley whispered to uncle Bobby.
“Thanks, Auntie 'wena,” Jess smiled and blushed.
“Hey, where's the birthday girl?” uncle Dean called.
Jessica popped her head up to search in the direction she heard her name and found uncle Dean and uncle Cassie carrying a big cake to the table. The little girl's mouth fell open in surprise. That cake was so big and pretty! It was white with purple glitter all around it and a rainbow arch over the top! And instead of candles, there were sparklers! It was beautiful! Uncle Dean smiled and waved her over.
“Come over here so we can sing to you, blondie,” he grinned.
Jessica didn't waste anytime running over to climb up onto the picnic table seat. Dickie hopped up to join her with Jude and Ollie on each side. Daddy and Papa stood up behind her while everyone else gathered around the front side. They were all staring at Jess and the pretty cake when they started to sing 'Happy Birthday.' The only thing Jessica did while she listened to the voices of all her favorite people sing to her was watch the sparklers fizzle on her cake and feel absolutely loved. She hoped that every kid got to feel this way on their birthday because this was the best feeling in the world...
“Happy birthday to yooooou,” they finished with clapping.
Papa knelt down next to Jess and hugged her tight to whisper,
“Make a wish and blow out the fireworks, baby girl.”
Jessica paused to think really hard about what she wanted to wish for. There were many things that she could ask to have, so many toys and playthings. But all she really wanted was this. To be happy with her family forever. Jessie tried her best to feel her wish in her heart before she blew air with all her might. The sparklers actually stopped sparkling and everyone clapped again. Yay! She made her wish! And she really hoped that it would come true...
“Great job, Jess,” uncle Dean said as he carefully pulled the cake away, “We're gonna open presents before we eat cake, okay?”
“Okay,” Jess nodded.
“Wow,” Ollie mumbled at her side, staring at the pile of gifts, “You got so many presents, Jessie. I hope they all fit in your room.”
“They will,” Jess nodded.
She didn't know what every present was yet, but she did know that they would all fit in her room. Because her room always looked clean and nice in her dreams. Uncle Dean sorted through some of the presents to find a good one before placing it on the table in front of Jess. It was a big box wrapped in red paper that seemed really heavy. Ollie and Jude were both cheering for Jessica when she tore the paper away and opened the box to see a huge black bowl inside. Huh. What was it? Some kind of bedroom decoration?
“What's this?” Jess asked, struggling to lift the heavy bowl out of the box.
“Oh! That's from me,” Auntie Rowena smiled and waved, “Its yer very first caldron, puppet. Every lady needs to have a great sturdy caldron. How do you suppose we craft our potions and poisons?”
“Mother,” uncle Crowley hissed, tugging on her arm.
“Er, yeah, thanks,” Daddy coughed, lunging forward to take the black caldron and stuff it under the table, “Can we have the next present now, Dean?”
“Yep. Comin' right up,” uncle Dean mumbled.
He dug around in the pile again to grab a smaller present. This one was in a dark gift bag with a white bow on the front. Jessie didn't even look at the name tag. She just climbed up to pull the tissue paper out of the top and take out the gift. It was a very pretty box made out of dark wood, carved with tiny details of flowers and hearts. The letters JMW were burned into the top of the lid and Jessica figured that they stood for her name. Jessica Mary Winchester.
“This is pretty,” she breathed, admiring the art.
“Indeed,” uncle Crowley grinned, “but like you, there is more to it than just beauty, my dear.”
He strolled closer to the table so that he could lean down and whisper to Jessie, making his voice sound so welcoming.
“I enchanted this box with special magic,” he said, searching Jess's face with warm eyes, “It is virtually indestructible and will only open for you. All you must do is put your hand over the lid and say 'Winchester'.”
Jessica nearly gasped. A secret box that only opened for her?! That sounded so awesome! She couldn't wait to see if it worked! With uncle Crowley beaming next to her, Jessie grabbed the top of her box and whispered 'Winchester' just like he said – and the box popped open. A giggle escaped Jess's smiling lips as she lifted the lid to look down inside, where another tiny present was hidden. She took the tiny object and unwrapped it to reveal a small pocket knife, just like the one that Daddy had in the glove box of the Impala. Only this one was made of purple metal.
“That one's from me, darlin',” uncle Bobby said with a smile, holing up his cup of coffee, “You never know when yer gonna need something sharp.”
“That's so cool, Jessie,” Jude said, leaning forward, “Can I see it?”
Jessica happily handed her new knife over to her cousin so that he could see how awesome it was. In the meantime, she gave her two uncles the best smiles she had.
“Thank you so much,” she said, batting her eyelashes for good measure.
Uncle Bobby and uncle Crowley both grinned back at Jess, looking like the happiest uncles in the world. Papa carefully moved the wooden box out of the way so that uncle Dean could put the next present in front of Jess. It was a gift bag with a unicorn on the front. Next to her, Ollie suddenly shifted around in the seat with excitement.
“Oh! That's mine!” he smiled, making his brown eyes sparkle, “I picked those for you, Jessie! Open it! Open it!”
Jessie giggled as she yanked the tissue paper out and looked down inside to see a few movies. The little girl pulled them out one by one so that she could read the titles carefully.
“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?” she asked.
“No way! That's my favorite movie!” Papa said, leaning over to stare at the DVD cover with a huge grin before ruffling Ollie's red hair, “Great choice, carrot-top!”
Ollie blushed, but behind him, Daddy sighed and rolled his eyes. It seemed like he wasn't very happy about Papa giving Ollie some love. And though she was curious about it, Jessie went back to looking at her new movies instead.
“Alice in Wonderland, The Last Unicorn, and The Princess Bride,” Jess finished reading.
“Yeah,” Ollie said, leaning close to point at them, “I got you Alice because it has your white bunny in it, and I got The Last Unicorn because its my favorite, and I got you The Princess Bride because the princess is almost as pretty as you are.”
Jessie paused to look directly at her friend next to her; at his smiling face and messy orange hair. Ollie really thought she was pretty? He was so sweet! Jessie put down the movies so that she could wrap both arms around Ollie's warm shoulders. He smelled like watermelon and laundry. Ms. Jane, Auntie Rowena, and Papa all said 'aww,' but Daddy coughed loudly and quickly put all the movies back in the bag.
“Okay, open your next present, Jess,” he said, grabbing a random bag to place in front of her.
“Thanks Ollie,” Jessie whispered before letting go.
Ollie nodded and Jess turned to her gift. This one was from Jude. Jessie knew because she saw this one in a dream. There was a rolled up poster sticking out of the top and something small wrapped up in the bottom. The little girl knew that the poster was of Wonder Woman, because she had already seen it on her wall in many dreams before. She pulled it out and unraveled it, seeing the powerful lady in a fighting pose with a sword and her lasso on the big paper.
“Whoa, thanks, Jude!” Jessie smiled.
“You're welcome, Jessie,” he said, patting her back, “Don't forget the one in the bottom.”
Jess dug in the bottom of the bag to get the other small gift and tore it open. This one was a handmade bracelet. Rainbow beads were all around a purple string, but the middle beads had letters that spelled out her name. Jessica stared down at her new bracelet and felt kind of strange, like she was remembering something that hadn't happened yet. This bracelet was going to be very important to her. Just looking at it made her feel so safe and happy... Jessie looked up to her cousin beside her and gave him a big smile before wrapping him into a hug, too. Jess loved her cousin Jude. He was the best friend that anyone could ask for.
“I made it all by myself. I hope you like it,” Jude said.
“I love it, Jude,” Jessie nodded back.
The little girl had just enough time to slip the pretty bracelet onto her wrist before uncle Dean placed another present in front of her. He winked one of his green eyes when he put it down, like he was proud.
“This one is from me and uncle Cas,” he said.
Jessie giggled as she climbed back up to open the big gift bag. She reached down inside, touched something made of fabric, and pulled it out to see a new dress. It was long, slinky, and made of purple plaid; just like the kind that Daddy and uncle Dean wore, only prettier. Jess gasped and held it up to herself with a smile.
“It's so pretty, uncle Dean!” she sang.
“Uncle Cas picked it out for you,” uncle Dean said, pulling uncle Cassie close to toss an arm around his shoulder, “I got you the shoes.”
“Shoes?!” Jessie gasped.
She put the dress down to dig around in the bag to pull out two big black boots. They were so cool-looking! Like boots that tough girls wore. With big buckles and silver rivets on the sides. And they matched the new dress! It was a perfect outfit!
“The dress is for breaking hearts and the boots are for kickin' butt,” uncle Dean added with a smile.
“Thank you!” Jessie said, reaching both arms out to them.
Uncle Dean and uncle Cassie both leaned over the table so that they could hug her at the same time. Jessie loved them both so much. Uncle Cassie was so nice and uncle Dean was so funny. And they each gave great hugs.
“Happy Birthday, Jessica,” uncle Cassie said, pecking a kiss to the top of her head.
When Jess sat back down, Daddy came around the table with a huge gift. It must have been heavy, because he had to carry it with both hands and sit it down easy. Jessie, Jude, and Ollie all stared at the purple wrapping paper in surprise. Man, that was a big present! There was a really happy look on Daddy's face too, like he was exited for Jessie to open it. It was going to be a good one!
“This one is from me, Jess,” he said, sliding the box toward her.
Jessie couldn't wait to dig into the wrapping paper. She even let Ollie and Jude help her tear it all off of the big box. And when she finally pulled back the cardboard flaps to look inside, she let out another huge gasp. They were books! So many books! All kinds of books! Books were her favorite! Jessica's hands dove into the box to pick up as many as she could to see which ones they were.
“No way, Daddy! You got me The Hobbit?!” she breathed, staring wide-eyed at the dragon on the cover.
“The Hobbit?” uncle Dean repeated, “I thought you guys were reading Harry Potter.”
“Nope. We finished The Deathly Hallows last week,” Daddy answered, looking back to give uncle Dean a proud smile.
“Geez, that kid reads a lot... She's like a carbon copy of you, Sammy,” uncle Dean mumbled.
“And the Sherlock Holmes collection!” Jessie gasped, still sorting through her titles, “and Shakespeare's sonnets?! Oh my goodness!”
Across the table, most of Jess's uncles were giving her and Daddy a few weird glances.
“Shakespeare? Ain't that a little advanced for a ten-year-old?” uncle Bobby asked, raising an eyebrow under his hat.
“Not for our beam of sunshine,” Papa denied, reaching down to brush some of her hair back, “She's the smartest rabbit in the world.”
The little girl hugged her new books to her chest and squealed, feeling so happy. She had heard about – and dreamed about – these stories before, but she couldn't wait to read them for herself. She loved reading! Reading a story before bed with Daddy was her favorite thing to do. And now, she had plenty of new ones! Daddy smiled brightly at her from across the picnic table, making his eyes shine and look so handsome.
“There are some textbooks in there too, Jess. We're gonna start learning about the solar system and the Revolutionary war soon, okay?” he said.
“Okay! I can't wait,” she nodded happily, dropping the books to hold her arms out, “I love you, Daddy! Thank you so much!”
Daddy's smile turned even brighter when he came around the picnic table to give her another big hug. This hug was tighter than the one they had before. Jessie could almost feel Daddy's heart beating against her own chest. Again, she smothered her face into his long hair and breathed, feeling so light and warm.
“I love you too, honey. Happy birthday,” he whispered before kissing the side of her head.
Jess smiled up at her Daddy's handsome face when he pulled away, noticing that his eyes were kinda watery. Behind them, Papa clapped once really loud, getting everyone's attention.
“Alright! Time for the last gift,” Papa announced, meeting eyes with Jess and smiling real big, “And this one's from me.”
When Papa said that, Dickie growled a little bit and let out a few barks from the table. It sounded like he was disagreeing with Papa's words. With a deep sigh, Papa's shoulders drooped and he rolled his gold eyes.
“Okay, fine, it's from me and Dickie,” he corrected.
“Where is it, Papa?” Jessie asked.
She could see that all the presents had been opened, so whatever Papa had must have been somewhere out of sight. A grin – a sneaky kind of grin – spread on Papa's mouth as he eased over to kneel down next to her.
“Oh, this gift isn't something that you can hold in your hand, honeydew,” he said, shaking his head and reaching out to touch Jess's arm, “and it's certainly not here.”
Jessie was puzzled. If the gift wasn't something that she could hold, then how could it be a gift at all? The little girl reached out to hold onto her Papa's shoulders, wanting to know the answer.
“Then what's the gift?” she asked.
One of Papa's hands slipped inside his jacket pocket – and returned with a piece of paper between his fingers. He held out the rectangular paper to Jessie, who instantly snatched it away to read the printed words on the front.
“Kansas City Zoo?” she recited.
“Yep,” Papa nodded, his eyes big and mouth smirking, “Tomorrow, we're all heading out to go to the zoo!”
Jessica's jaw dropped and she nearly jumped out of her seat. The zoo?! Where all the animals were?! They were all going to see them?! All together?!
“The – the zoo?! Everybody's going?!” she asked.
“Uh-huh,” Papa nodded again, “You, me, Daddy, Jude, uncle Dean, uncle Cassie, Dickie. And Ollie, too.”
“Really?!” Jessie grinned.
“Really?!” Ollie said, his eyes big and mouth open.
“Really?!” Daddy repeated, sounding upset and confused at the same time.
“Yep. I've already cleared it with his mommy. Right, Jane?” Papa asked, raising his head to look at her.
Across the table, Ms. Jane waved and nodded next to uncle Cassie. Jessie couldn't believe it! They were all going to go on a fun trip together to see animals! Monkeys and pandas and elephants and tigers! Jessie couldn't wait to go! That sounded like the best gift ever! The little girl lunged forward to give her Papa a ginormous hug, holding him so tight that she could feel their graces touching. She loved her Papa so much! He was the best, most amazing Papa ever!
“Thank you, Papa. I love you so much,” Jessie whispered.
Papa's warm arms circled around Jess's back and held her close, making her feel like she was already home again.
“I love you too, Jessie-rabbit,” he said back, “with all my heart.”
Dean carefully wrapped some tin foil around what was left of his niece's birthday cake, trying to cover as much as he could so that they could save it in the fridge. Geez, why did Sam and Gabriel get such a big cake? It was carrot cake – Jess's favorite – and Dean figured the cream cheese icing had to be kept cold. But man, it was going to be difficult to fit it in the fridge. Behind him in the bunker kitchen, Sam and Gabe were already putting away the rest of the food they had at the party. And gossiping like teenage girls, as usual.
“I heard Singer and the demon Brit still aren't living together,” Gabe practically whispered, sounding confused, “What do you think that's all about, Samsquatch? Think something's going on?”
“You mean other than Crowley trying to rule over Hell while Bobby hunts? I don't think so, Gabe,” Sam replied with a sigh.
“Oh, come on, you don't think that's just a little weird?” Gabe issued, sounding suspicious, “They've been married for five years and they've never lived together. Married couples are supposed to want to stay together all the time, right? I mean, look at us. Hell, you and I are practically connected at the hip. And not just in the bedroom.”
Dean actually paused to roll his eyes. Ugh. Why did Gabriel have to mention bedroom things in his presence?
“What are you trying to imply, Gabe? That they don't really love each other?” Sam huffed, sounding disappointed as he stacked veggie trays inside the fridge.
“What? No. Are you kidding? Those guys are head over heels for each other... I think its something else,” the archangel said, smirking as he stared off into the distance, “I think one of them wants a baby and the other one doesn't.”
Dean couldn't stop the laugh that toppled out of his mouth. And apparently Sam couldn't either, because he laughed just as hard. Crowley and Bobby wanting a kid? That was the dumbest idea ever! Gabe's smile disappeared and he glanced between the Winchesters, looking offended.
“What?” he asked.
Dean turned around so that he could look at Gabriel properly and shake his head.
“Bobby has already raised two kids of his own,” the man pointed out, gesturing to himself and Sam, “I doubt he wants to start the diaper changing now.”
Gabriel opened his mouth to argue but Jude and Jessica came running into the kitchen with Dickie at their heels. The birthday girl – still wearing that leftover smile from her party – held up one of her new movies and put on her best goo goo eyes.
“Daddy,” Jess said, batting those long eyelashes, “Can Jude and I watch Willy Wonka before bed tonight?”
Sam paused to look at Gabe, who smiled and gave a shrug.
“I guess,” Sam allowed, “Just be sure to turn it off by nine thirty, okay? We've gotta rest up for the trip tomorrow.”
“Yay!” Jessie rejoiced, “We will! Thanks, Dad!”
The two kids smiled and giggled with each other before ducking back out of the kitchen. Dean sighed contently as he watched his son and niece disappear out of the room. He was so glad that they had fun at the party today. And he couldn't wait to see their faces when they saw the animals at the zoo. That was all he ever wanted for Jude and Jess; happiness, fun, and as many smiles as they could spare...
“Do you think those oompa loompas will give her nightmares?” Sam mumbled.
“Nah. She'll love it,” Gabe denied, munching on some leftover cake, “So, anyway, back to this 'baby' business with Singer and Crowley -”
“There is no baby business, Gabe,” Sam groaned, “Bobby's done with kids. And I'm pretty sure that Crowley doesn't even want them.”
Dean nodded to show that he agreed with his brother's statement as he walked the heavy cake over to the fridge. The guy was right. As far as Dean could tell, Crowley hated kids.
“So what? That doesn't mean anything,” Gabe said, “Dean didn't want Jude at first, remember?”
Dean's mouth fell open and he almost dropped the cake in his hands. What the hell?! Why did Gabe have to bring up shit like that just to make a point? Before Dean could turn around and speak his mind on the matter, a loud 'clap' echoed around the room. Dean, Sam, and Gabe all turned toward the doorway – where they saw Jude standing alone. Apparently, the kid had come back to get a bag of popcorn, but the package laid at his feet where he dropped it in horror. Jude's blue eyes were wide and starting to glisten like pools, and Dean's heart broke instantly. Shit! Jude heard what Gabriel said! He thought that Dean didn't want him! No!
“Jude,” Dean began, shaking his head, “Buddy, I -”
Before Dean could even defend himself, his ten-year-old son turned away and disappeared down the hall again. Anxiousness and heartbreak coursed through Dean's chest, making him feel like total shit. Son of a bitch! Why the hell did Gabriel have to say that?! Dean nearly growled with rage as he spun around and thrust the heavy cake into the archangel's arms.
“Thanks a lot, asshole,” Dean spat.
Gabriel squeaked a tiny apology, but Dean was already dashing out of the kitchen. He had to catch his son and set the record straight. He couldn't stand the thought of Jude wondering if his father really loved him or not, because he did! Dean loved Jude more than anything! More than life itself! Once he rounded the corridor that led to the hallway of bedrooms, Dean looked up just in time to see Jude's door slam shut. Ugh, it felt like Dean couldn't get there fast enough.
“Jude,” Dean called, racing down the hall to knock on his son's door, “Jude, buddy, open the door.”
No sound came from inside and the door stayed shut, separating Dean from his child like a cold barrier. Again, Dean knocked on the door and sighed.
“What uncle Gabe said isn't true,” Dean said, even though his heart ached with guilt at the memories of leaving Cas when he first found out that they were pregnant, “... I do love you, Jude. And I'm proud to be your Dad.”
A tiny moment passed by in which Dean stared at the door and listened to his own heart thump in his ears. Ugh, he hated no being able to see his kid! He wished that he could just wrap his arms around Jude and comfort him like a dad should! Dean blinked hard at the door until he heard the tiny voice from inside finally speak.
“Then why would uncle Gabe say that?” Jude mumbled.
Dean exhaled the breath he was holding and hung his head. At least Jude was talking to him again...
“Because...” Dean gulped, knowing he had to tell the truth, “Because I was scared... When Papa became pregnant with you, Jude, I got scared... It wasn't because I didn't want you, son. It was because I was afraid.”
Dean knew that what he said made him sound weak. And hell, Dean was weak. He was the weakest person he knew. But Jude had always looked at him like Batman; like a flawless superhero that didn't have weaknesses. And Dean was worried that this conversation was going to change the way his son looked at him... But while he waited to hear a response, the bedroom door opened and Jude's tiny head of spiky brown hair and ocean eyes peered out to meet him. Dean's son stared up at him with a curious expression, looking so much like Cas that it gave Dean chills.
“Why?” the little boy asked, sounding genuinely interested in knowing.
Dean took another large breath and gently pushed his son's bedroom door open even further.
“We better sit down for this one, little man,” Dean nodded, “It's a long story.”