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Never Quite as it Seems

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Sam Winchester was dreaming.

Sam trudged up the hill beside the bunker. At the top of the hill Jack stood, smiling and waving his arms.

“Hurry up, Sam!”

“I’m coming,” Sam huffed.

“What do you think?” Jack asked.

Sam followed Jack’s gaze to see the wide valley had now been transformed into a still, silver lake. Jack looked at Sam expectantly, practically bouncing on his toes.

“It’s beautiful,” Sam said. “I didn’t know we had a lake.”

“We didn’t. I made it.”

Jack handed him a fishing pole and picked up another for himself that materialized on the ground, next to a cooler presumably full of bait.

Jack lead him to the edge of the lake where a dock extended out, two canvas folding chairs set on the end, waiting for them.

And suddenly they were sitting, time jumping in the way dreams tend to do, their poles hovering over the lake, hook submerged in the water.

“Did your father teach you to fish?” Jack asked.

“He did, yeah. We really only did it once or twice. If I was fishing growing up it was usually with Dean.”

“What else did you do with your father?”

Images flashed as Sam spoke, both the memories and the current situation able to exist simultaneously.

“Mostly he made me do military drills and we screamed at each other. He taught me to shoot.”

Jack’s face lit up, only able to hear the positive parts of Sam’s sentences. “Will you teach me to shoot?”

“If you want to learn, sure.” A beer had appeared in Sam’s hand. It was a brand he hadn’t seen in years. It looked familiar, and something in his head told him it was what Dad drank. He took a sip. “Though, with your powers, it’s not exactly something you need to know.”

“I know that,” Jack pouted. “I just want to be like you.”

Sam thought he might cry.

“Well,” Sam coughed, “maybe you should have asked Dean to teach you how to fish, because it doesn’t look like anybody’s biting.”

“Oh,” Jack frowned, “I think I forgot to add the fish.”

The dream shifted.

Sam was sitting in the library with a book cracked open on the table.

He was keeping his eyes trained steadfastly on the words in front of him, but the text was swimming and unintelligible. He was somehow still able to see Rowena, half-dressed, and sitting on Gabriel’s lap in the corner.

“Do you guys mind?” Sam asked, eyes still trained on the book.

Rowena only giggled, and Gabriel said, “Be more fun if you joined us, Sammy. There’s plenty to go around.”

Then Dean entered the library and Sam looked up, ready to ask for backup, only to notice Dean was tugging Castiel behind him by the tie around his neck.

“Seriously?”

Dean and Cas didn’t reply. Cas pushed Dean up against a bookcase and they both laughed, smiling and touching, but never kissing.

“Don’t you have a room?”

Dean and Cas continued to ignore him. Gabriel and Rowena were steadily getting rowdier in their corner.

Sam was alone. The only one alone.

The dream changed again.

Lucifer laughed, fire in his eyes. Sam was paralyzed. It felt like ropes were burning his skin though he knew nothing was physically tying him down.

Sam couldn’t move.

Sam couldn’t breathe.

Sam woke up abruptly but was still unable to open his eyes or move his limbs.

Slowly he regained control of his breath and was able to wiggle his fingertips.

He looked at his alarm clock.

Four in the morning.

He rolled over, punched his pillow, and slowly fell back asleep.

Dean was getting married. They were on a property that looked a lot like Stanford Main Quad but certainly wasn’t.

Dean stood under a flowered archway and Sam stood beside him as the best man. Sam reached in his pocket and felt a ring box.

“I’m so happy,” Dean said, turning to look at Sam with a tearful smile.

Sam returned the smile but found himself asking aloud, “Who are you marrying?”

Dean just smiled and turned back to look down the empty aisle. Yellow flower petals were strewn everywhere and there were rows of seats filled with people. Sam recognized all of them, even though he had thought most of them were dead. He spotted Ellen and Jo. Bobby was sitting with Dad. But Jody and Donna were there as well, sporting a whole gaggle of girls around them. Charlie was standing with the groomsmen, wearing a canary yellow suit.

What seemed like hours passed and there was as of yet no bride. Nobody seemed to notice or mind, least of all Dean. The guests all dabbed their eyes and smiled.

Sam turned to Charlie.

“Who is he marrying? Where are they?”

“They’re so sweet together, right? Like, seriously OTP goals.”

“Charlie, I don’t even know what that means.”

Another hour passed. Sam nervously shifted his weight on his feet. He suddenly spotted Mary in the corner of the front row, a ball of tissues wadded in her hands. There was an empty chair next to her.

Sam tried to indicate to Dean he was going to sit down for a moment, but Dean couldn’t hear him. He just kept staring down the aisle, expression eager, hands fidgeting in front of him.

“Hey mom,” Sam said, sitting next to her and taking hold of one of her arms, “how are you holding up?”

“Oh, I’m a wreck, of course,” she laughed. “My oldest getting married! Do you realize how absolutely insane it is that I’m able to be here today? That I get to be a part of this?”

“Yeah,” Sam said, getting a bit tearful himself, despite his confusion. “Dean is so thrilled you’re here, you know. It means the world to him.”

“Death herself couldn’t keep me away from my boys,” Mary said with a wink.

“I thought I would have this once,” Sam admitted. “I had left the life, mom. I loved a girl, I was going to propose.”

“You could still have that someday,” Mary said, leaning her head on Sam’s shoulder, “if you want it, that is.”

Sam gave a noncommittal hum.

“Mom, who is Dean marrying? Do you know what’s taking her so long? Something feels wrong.”

“Your father would be so proud of you both,” Mary said, as if Sam had not spoken.

“What do you mean? Dad is right there,” Sam said, looking across the aisle where John Winchester caught his gaze and waved.

Sam sat up suddenly, looking around at all the guests again, searching for a familiar face.

“Hey, where is Cas?”

Sam turned off his alarm clock. He didn’t remember any of his dreams the following morning, except one that he’s pretty sure involved pizza. He also had such a strong sense that Mary and Jack were back, only to fully wake up and realize they were still gone.

Sam rubbed his eyes. He could already smell the bacon Dean was frying in the kitchen.

Today was the day.

He would finally bring them home.