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(Be)Longing

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Chapter 1: How It All Started.

3 years ago

Dean buckled under the weight of his grief, sinking to the floor, tucking his face into his hands. He could feel his phone buzzing in front of him but he couldn't hear it, everything seemed to be coming from far away. He couldn't bring himself to look at his phone, couldn't deal with Sam or Jack telling him if they had failed or succeeded. All he could do was sob into his hands, praying to a God he knew wasn't listening and a best friend who he wasn't even sure could still hear him.

 

*********

 

That's how Sam and Jack found him 2 days later. Sam had tried calling him over 20 times but since he hadn't picked up or answered any of the millions of messages, they thought that he had disappeared with the rest of the world and so they tracked his phone and burst into the dungeon, frantically looking around before seeing him laying on the floor against the wall, fast asleep, hands clutching a dirty, blood-streaked trench coat.

Jack's face crumpled but before Sam could say anything, Jack approached Dean and hesitantly shook his shoulder. Sam should've known something was seriously wrong immediately as Dean did not startle awake or jump and pull his gun on them like he would have done just last week. Instead Dean rolled over to face them and slowly opened his eyes before heaving himself into a seated position, looking at the trench coat and bringing it to his chest with a small sigh, before looking up and Sam and Jack with a haunted look in his eyes. Sam matched the look with one of his own before uttering the dreaded words, "It didn't work. They are all gone." and watching as Dean closed his eyes tight before nodding his head.

"It was Chuck." Dean battled through, voice scratching in his throat, and clearing his throat twice afterwards. "Chuck is punishing us the only way he knows how."

Sam watched Dean stand and stretch, wincing as he heard Dean's back clicking and cracking from the other side of the room. "Are you sure it's Chuck? How soon did you get Billy? Maybe it was her parting gift." Sam mused and then wished he could take his words back as Dean's face showed him how that sentence cut into him, eyes falling on the trench coat still clutched against his chest and his eyes shone with new tears.

"She told us before she died." Dean whispered, knuckles going white against the brown and red of the trench coat. "Before the Empty took her and-" he couldn't finish the sentence and instead closed his eyes and took a deep breath before forcing out the words. "And Cas. The Empty took Billy when it took Cas."

Sam scrunched his nose in confusion but was beaten by Jack who had grabbed Dean and pulled him into a tight hug, Jack's face buried in Dean's shirt as he sobbed. Dean avoided looking at Sam as he rubbed Jack's back soothingly. "He's gone?" came the small voice from Dean's shoulder.

"Yeah kid. Billy was going to kill us. He summoned the Empty and when it came to take him it took Billy with." Dean explained, voice shaking.

Sam finally walked up to Dean, telling himself he would question how Cas managed to summon the Empty later, instead putting his hand on Dean's shoulder that wasn't currently being used by Jack. "I hate to say this now but we still have to get Chuck and try to fix this." He said, hating himself for ruining the moment but needing to remind the other two that Chuck was still out there, waiting for the best time to catch them off-guard and with two of them crying into each other's clothes, this was the perfect time. "Chuck could be watching us even now."

Jack looked at Dean. "I'm glad I still have you. Love you." He said and hugged Dean tight before letting go.

Dean looked like he was ready to cry again but blinked the tears away. "Love you too kid." he managed and then turned to Sam. "He can't get in or look in. We have the warding up." He said with a scoff that Sam immediately saw through and frowned.

"That's besides the point. We need a game plan anyway." Sam said and turned to lead them out of the dungeon. "We need to beat Chuck now, before it's too late."

They all left the dungeon, talking about their best way to get to Chuck, Jack still tucked under Dean's arm and Sam watching Dean clutch both Jack and the trench coat tightly.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2: The Remembering Hurts The Most.

2 years ago

Dean closed the cupboard quietly, wincing at the small click that sounded extremely loud in the dark kitchen. He held his breath and listened for footsteps before sighing in relief as none came. He clutched the two bottles closer to his chest and snuck back to his room slowly and quietly, hardly breathing.

**********

Sam stretched as he came into the kitchen after his run. It had been colder that morning and he was relishing the controlled temperature of the bunker's air. He made himself coffee and was on his way to his room before something caught his eye. He stopped and turned, observing the room, trying to decide what had grabbed his attention.

He realised that it was the alcohol cabinet. He walked closer and opened the doors, the open space signifying the disappearance of multiple bottles. Sam closed the cupboard with a clang, dumped his coffee out in the sink, left his mug on the table and strode angrily to Dean's room.

He burst in with a bang. "Really Dean? I just restocked the cupboard!" Sam said with a whine in his voice before taking stock of Dean and his room.

Dean rolled over in bed and rubbed his eyes, wincing as the light Sam had switched on burnt into his brain. "Dude, what are you even saying?" Dean asked, voice stumbling over the words as if he wasn't sure how to form them.

Sam closed the door, switched the light off and sat on Dean's bed. "What happened? You were doing so well... 2 months and counting." he whispered to his older brother.

Dean sat up and Sam noticed that he had the infamous trench coat in his grasp. "I'm starting to think that the trench coat is getting more action than you." Sam said with a grin that was more forced than anything.

Dean closed his eyes. "It's been a year Sammy. 1 year today and I couldn't. I couldn't keep pretending that I'm fine, that I'm over it." Dean's eyes opened as his voice dropped to a whisper. "It's been a year and I miss him so much." Sam watched in horror as tears started rolling down Dean's face.

"Dean, I didn't realise. I'm so sorry." Sam said, trying to get Dean to accept his hug. "You don't have to be fine at all. You can just be. I know and Eileen knows how much he meant to you, to all of us. Don't hide away. We all miss him." Sam gave up trying to hug his brother and settled for resting a hand on his shoulder.

"Just go away Sammy. I'll be fine. I'll see you later." Dean managed between sobs and lay back down to bury his face in his pillow, body shaking and hands pulling the trench coat closer to his chest.

Sam sat for a few more minutes before leaving with a small "I'll see you later Dean". He felt for his brother, he really did. He just hoped that Dean wouldn't spiral too badly and go on suicide missions again. Him, Eileen and Jack couldn't manage a second time.

"Hey Jack. I know that today is a tough day. Come by later okay? I know that Dean will feel better if he can see you today." Sam prayed as he walked back to the kitchen to start breakfast.

*********

Jack felt a ripple of fear pass through him as he heard Sam's prayer. He remembered how powerless he had felt when Dean had almost killed himself multiple times for almost 8 months after Cas had died.

I just want to see him again, is it too much to ask?

Those had been Dean's words the last time Jack had hurried to his side after a terrified prayer from Sam. Dean had managed to get inbetween a vampire and his next victim and the vampire had instead drained Dean of almost all of his blood before Sam managed to figure out their location and chop his head off, frantically praying to Jack and trying to stop Dean from dying.

That had been the night that Sam and Jack had spoken to Dean who had promised to try to stop for their sakes. Jack knew why Dean would struggle today, he himself had ignored the date until one of the angels had asked him how he was doing.

"Sir?" Jack blinked and looked to Anael, the one who had addressed him. "We can handle this if you would like to return to Earth." she said, sympathy in her gaze.

Jack opened his mouth to argue but she shot him a look that he took to mean you are no help today, just go. He smiled at her. "I'll be back soon." he said and happily zipped off to the bunker.

He crashed into the lounge in the middle of breakfast, a little "ouch" escaping him and his knee his the coffee table.

Sam and Eileen rushed out of the kitchen and Jack found himself staring down the barrel of a gun before being pulled into a hug in the space of a blink.

"I've missed you so much!" Sam said and squeezed his tight before letting him go and letting him hug Eileen.

"I've missed you both too." Jack said and signed before looking around. "Where's Dean?"

Sam wouldn't look him in the eyes when he answered that Dean was in his room and didn't want visitors. Jack frowned. "I'm sure he wants to see me." he said before hurrying to Dean's room.

He knocked lightly and entered. "Hello Dean." Jack said brightly.

Dean sat up quickly before shrinking back down slightly. "Hey Jack." he murmured before looking around his room blearily. " 'Scuse the mess."

Jack clicked his fingers and the room was spotless, everything where it belonged and empty bottles in the trash in the kitchen. "Now there's no mess." he said, happy with himself.

Dean snorted before groaning, holding a hand to his head. "Can we do this tomorrow when I'm not hungover?" he grouched.

Jack simply walked over to the bed and touched Dean's forehead. There was a slight glow before Jack excitedly removed his hand from Dean's head and clapped his hands together excitedly. "Now you aren't hungover."

Dean frowned before taking in the ecstatic kid next to his bed, eyes shining. "Come here kiddo." Dean said, eyes prickling with tears, as he opened his arms for a hug.

They both cried a little into each other's shoulders, Dean saddened by Jack saying that he misses him too. After a few minutes, Dean pulled away. "Let's go before the other two join this slumber party." he said, making a brave face and hauling himself out of bed.

Jack looked at him, wise beyond years. "Cas would want you to be happy you know. He would hate to know that you were in heaven a year after he died for you Dean. He died to give you a life. Don't waste it." Dean had to rub his eyes to get rid of the errant tears. "Now Sam made real bacon, let's go!" Jack said, pulling Dean out of his room and toward the kitchen.

I promise Cas. I will do my best. Dean thought to his best friend before following the eager child to the kitchen, ready to face the second worst day of his life.

********

Later that day, once everybody was either in bed or gone for the day, Sam opened his laptop and did the one thing he had promised Dean he would never do.

He logged into the security cameras for the dungeon in the bunker and pulled up the feed for one year ago. Dean had never told him how Cas managed to summon the Empty and he had managed to resist the call of the tapes so far but it was a day full of remembering and Sam knew that his brother would never break and tell him so he pulled up the saved footage and watched.

He silently watched and listened to the whole thing. From the time Dean and Cas had come into view, all through the big speech by Cas, through Dean clutching Cas to his chest in a hug that was ended abruptly in a flash of dark, through Dean glancing around the empty dungeon holding onto the trench coat, all the way until the time himself and Jack had burst in desperately.

Sam knew he was crying but he couldn't stop. He never realised just what Dean had been through. Watching someone die was bad enough but having them ripped quite literally out of your arms was sure to cut deeper than even Sam had initially realised.

Once it was over, Sam closed his laptop with a deep exhale before going to Dean's room and covering his brother with the blankets before switching the light off and closing the door softly, feeling more and more sympathy for his rough brother than he thought was possible.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3: Reminders hurt most when you can't see them

1 year ago

Dean knew he wouldn't be able to get through today, at least not while he was sober. He looked around his room while he got dressed but he couldn't see any bottles at all. He knew that Sam had been in his room to tidy it up a few weeks ago,he just hadn't realised that that had meant all of his alcohol got thrown out too.

He put on his smile before leaving the room, hoping Sam had filled the alcohol cupboard. He realised getting drunk would be more difficult than he thought when he walked into the kitchen and found Sam, Eileen and Jack all gathered in the kitchen, helping each other make breakfast.

Jack spotted him first and ran across the kitchen to wrap him in a hug. "Dean! We made you bacon and pancakes. Sam said you loved bacon and I love pancakes so he said we could make both of them! Here, come taste. I did the bacon all by myself."

Dean couldn't get a word in over the excited teen who now resembled a puppy. He looked over at Eileen who was laughing and then signed "help" one-handed to Sam who just shrugged and turned to make him coffee.

Dean sighed quietly and then feigned enthusiasm as Jack dished up a huge mound of bacon for him. Dean managed 3 strips before Sam handed him his coffee which he gladly took and sipped from.

All of a sudden there was a happy shriek from Jack as the sound of paws came into the kitchen. "Miracle!"

The dog froze in the entrance to the kitchen before he excitedly bounded to Jack and covered him in slobber.

Dean shook his head and whistled to Miracle, feeding the dog some bacon when he brushed against Dean's leg. Dean caught Sam's smile and rolled his eyes. He knew that Sam was happy that Dean was here, out of his room and he didn't have it in him to remind Sam that there was nothing to drink in his room.

Jack came up to Dean and opened his mouth but Dean beat him to it. "Yes kid, you can take him for a walk. A short one okay, he had a long walk last night. Be safe Jack, you hear me?" Dean said, trying to be stern when Jack's smile crept over his face.

Jack nodded eagerly and called to Miracle as he fetched his leash. Once the leash was clipped onto his collar, Miracle looked back at Dean. He refused to go with Jack no matter what Jack said or did. Dean gulped the rest of his coffee before walking up to them. "Wait for me outside, I just want to brush my teeth and change my shoes." he said and Jack hugged him again. "Go Miracle. Outside. I'm coming." he muttered to the dog who eagerly followed Jack up the stairs, wagging his tail.

It only took Dean a few minutes to be ready for their walk and he happily joined his dog and kid outside in the chilly air. Halfway through their walk, Jack turned to him seriously. "Dean. Can you be my dad?" he asked.

Dean stumbled over his own feet. It was one thing for Jack to be his kid in his head but another completely for Jack to say it out loud.

"I was talking to Sam and he said that I must ask you before just calling you Dad even though I thought you would be fine with it." Jack continued, unaware of how Dean was reacting.

Dean shook his feelings away. "Kid if that's what you want to call me then I do not mind. Are you sure?" Dean asked, not wanting to damper Jack's spirit but being cautious.

Jack turned and hugged Dean for what felt like the millionth time that day. "Thanks Dad. Of course I'm sure." and they continued on their walk, Jack completely unaware of the fact that he had just stopped Dean's plans of drunkenness with one word.

*******

Later that night, Sam kept a careful watch over Dean and his every movement. Once Jack had left with a small "bye Sam, bye Eileen, bye Dad" that had left Sam reeling, he followed Dean into the kitchen.

"Dad huh?" was the first thing out of Sam's mouth. Dean shrugged and explained how it had come about while searching the cupboards.

"I threw out all the alcohol Dean. You managed last year this time." Sam said softly, watching his brother closely.

Dean shook his head. "I'm looking for my biscuits that I hid somewhere here." he muttered before pulling out a small package hidden behind a few Tupperware with a small yell of victory. "And I didn't make it last year." he said, turning back to Sam. "I drank myself silly last year."

Sam frowned. "No you did it sober. I remember Jack helping with your hangover and then you spent the whole day with us."

Dean shrugged. "What do you think I did in the bathroom that often? I had a bottle hidden behind the toilet incase I couldn't cope and luckily I did or the day would've been ruined."

Sam looked at his brother in horror, remembering how pliant Dean had been and how relaxed he had looked. It now had a different feel when Sam realised that his brother had actually been drunk, not happy. "And this year?" he challenged Dean.

Dean shifted where he stood before he looked Sam in the eye and said firmly. "I wasn't a dad last year was I?"

Sam almost laughed in relief before hugging his brother. "I thought you would want to drink again this year. I wouldn't blame you, considering what happened that night but-" his voice faded away as Dean looked at him sharply.

"What?" the word fell from his brother's mouth dangerously.

**********

Dean's stomach fell, his hand reaching for a bottle he knew wasn't there as he heard his brother's words.

"What?" Even Dean knew that that word felt different, more protective than he had been in a while.

"I didn't want to but you wouldn't tell me what happened and I needed to know how to help you." Sam started his story.

Dean couldn't focus on the rest, didn't want to know the rest, how his brother watched Dean's whole life fall apart in under 5 minutes.

"I'm sorry." It was the whispered sentiment that broke Dean out of his daze.

"I told you not to. I asked you not to. But you still did it anyway." Dean had never felt more betrayed by his own family, not his Dad, not his mom, not Bobby. Dean looked up at Sam, not registering the way his brother flinched at the blank look in his eyes.

"Leave me alone Sam. I mean it. The one thing I begged you not to do is the thing you did. Fucking hell." Dean dragged his hands through his hair, vaguely aware of his biscuits laying on the floor.

"But I understand now Dean. I really do. I know why it hurts so bad every year-" Sam managed to get out before Dean angrily shook his head, stopping Sam before he even started.

"You don't understand. You didn't hold onto Eileen, feeling her slip away from you. You don't have a reminder burned into you each day. You will never know what I felt." Dean yelled and Miracle charged into the kitchen, barking at the top of his lungs.

Dean put his hand on Miracle's head, the dog quieting at the touch. "No shh doggie. I'm mad, not you." Dean whispered to Miracle.

"The memory won't hurt forever Dean, I'm sure it will fade." Sam said with a sympathetic pat on his shoulder.

Dean flinched away and pulled his shirt over his head, letting his brother see his chest. Sam gasped in shock and Eileen, who had run in after Miracle, cried out in horror.

Across Dean's chest was the mark that only an angel's wings could have burnt into his skin. Even though it was 2 years later, the mark was still dark and black on his chest, the outline of a piece of wing perfect against his chest. It went across the whole of his chest and just touched the handprint still etched onto his shoulder.

"Every time an angel dies, his wings are seared into the ground where he died. Guess this is what happens when a person is there and not a wall." Dean said, angrily wiping away his tears. "So don't ever tell me that you know what it's like because you don't." he continued before pulling on his shirt, picking up his biscuits and storming into his room, the door slamming behind him, leaving Sam and Eileen staring at each other silently.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4: A Dance; A Prayer

6 months ago

"Finally!" Sam groaned as he packed the last of the dishes away.

Eileen nudged him and he turned to watch her sign to him. "It's the least we could do. He made us all this delicious food."

Sam grinned and pulled her into a hug. He pulled away, signing as he spoke, smiling. "Yeah yeah. I know. I'm just giving him a hard time. Let's go see what those two are up to anyway. I hope he isn't letting Jack drink." and he put his arm around her waist and led her to the living room where Dean and Jack were putting the last of the things out for 'Santa'.

All four of them collapsed on the couches and Sam took the opportunity to turn to his brother who had his eyes closed and a smile on his face. "Dean," he started, waiting for Dean to look at him. "This is perfect. You really outdid yourself this year. I know we all loved today."

Dean rolled his eyes but was interrupted by Jack who suddenly bounced out of his seat next to Dean and rushed to the space where Dean had stored every imaginable thing that plays music. He fumbled around a little before grinning and hurrying back to his place next to Dean. There was a moment of silence before the familiar tune of Jingle Bells started up.

Dean groaned but allowed it, turning to question his sometimes son. "Really Jack? I give you control for one night and you play this? What is this even?" Dean asked, allowing his smile to lift his lips a little.

"It's my favourite Christmas songs. Sam showed me how to put them onto a cassette tape since I like them the best. I love the songs on here. I could listen to them all year." Jack explained, bouncing slightly on the couch.

Dean looked at his son before shrugging. "I'll allow it. But only because it's a cassette tape and it's Christmas you little shit." he said and relaxed back into the couch.

There was silence as they enjoyed the music before Jack nervously moved to another couch. Sam laughed and pointed it out to Eileen, a few signs flying between them as Sam explained what was about to happen. Eileen hit his shoulder making him let out an indignant "ouch!" and causing Dean to open his eyes.

Sam quickly stood up as the song changed and turned to face Eileen. "May I have this dance?" he asked, signing along. She giggled and nodded, letting him pull her off the couch and closer to the music so she could also feel it, spinning in a slow circle as they slow danced to 'It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas'. Both of their faces were close together, exchanging sweet kisses as they turned.

 

*******

Dean watched as his brother danced with Eileen. He was happy for them but couldn't help feeling slightly bitter that Sam got his happy ever after and he was stuck with a dog and a kid who, admittedly, now only left for a weekend each month since heaven could run itself.

His attention shifted onto said kid who was anxiously glancing between the dancing couple and Dean. Dean knew that him and Jack had come a long way. Jack started by calling him Dean more often than Dad even after their conversation. Lately it had been Dad more than Dean but Dean had quickly figured out that he was Dad if Jack had done something bad, he needed help, he needed a favour, was missing Cas or had missed him.

"Dad." Jack started now and Dean smiled the bright smile that graced his face when Jack called him that.

He looked over at Jack and then sat up straight at the serious look on the kid's face. "Is something wrong bud?" Dean asked, observing the way Jack's face had gone pale.

"I wanted to ask you something important." Jack shifted on the couch again.

Dean felt the panic he had suppressed creep up his throat and sit there. "Anything Jack."

"Can you teach me how to dance?" Jack knew immediately it was a bad question to ask his Dad judging by the blank look on his face. "Nicole asked me to come with her to her aunt's wedding and she told me to be ready to dance and I don't know how and I don't want to tell her I can't dance after I told her that I will be there."

Dean held up his hand, halting the stream of words coming from Jack. "This is that wedding you asked me about a month ago?" he checked.

Jack nodded. "Nicole is my best friend. Her boyfriend went back to collage and can't get another weekend off so she asked me but I told her I could dance and I can't." Jack practically wailed.

Dean felt his panic leave him in such a rush it almost left him breathless. "Of course I will Jack. Do you know what dances you will be doing at this wedding?" he questioned Jack.

Jack nodded eagerly and showed his Dad the list he had made. "We need to know these songs for the wedding and she will tell me when we must get together to practice these dances. I'm not too sacred of those since we will have a proper dance to them but what about the songs that just play and I'll be expected to dance with many other people not just her and I wouldn't want to stand on any toes." Jack explained.

Dean looked over the list. It wasn't too complicated. There were two slow dances, one a specified waltz, and another more upbeat song Dean just knew would be a line dance. He looked at Jack who was waiting for his reaction. "Jack I'm sure that they will teach you the dances you need to know but I can try give you basics okay. I'm not great at this. Shoulda asked Sammy." Dean said and gave Jack his note back.

Jack shook his head. "I thought about it but I wanted you to teach me. Can we start now?"

Dean stared at him before giving in to the puppy dog eyes that reminded him too much of Cas. He cleared his throat before nodding to his son. "Sure just go put on some socks. You can dance better in them for now." he said and then had to yell "JACK!" as Jack just disappeared, causing the bunker lights to flicker.

Jack came back into view. "Yes?" he questioned looking ashamed.

"You know the rules don't you?" Dean questioned for what felt like the millionth time. "If you want to go from room to room in the bunker you must-" he waited for Jack to complete the sentence.

"Use my god given body parts to walk around like a normal human being. Sorry Dad." Jack repeated like a robot before grinning and charging out of the living room.

"And no running!" Dean yelled after him. "It's like I'm talking to the freaking walls dammit." he muttered before bowing his head and closing his eyes. He knew Sam and Eileen were staring but he needed to tell Cas about this before Jack came back and Dean forgot the look of excitement on his face.

Heya Cas. I'm missing you a little more today. Jack asked if I could teach him to dance. I wish you were here to teach him yourself but man, the look on that kid's face when I agreed. Made me wish I had a video camera. I wish you were here to teach him. You would've loved it. You also would've loved to see us all setting up for Santa because Jack insists that he exists. I never thought I would see the day I set up for Santa. We had to do the whole milk and cookies thing it's awful. He even insisted on fucking carrots for the reindeer. God what a child we got here huh. I'll talk again later I promise. I can hear him running to the living room even though I tell him not to. Miss you angel.

Dean looked up just in time to catch Sam's raised eyebrow before Jack presented himself in front of Dean with blue socks now covering his toes. Dean sighed and toed off his shoes. In reality, he told Jack to wear socks so that it wouldn't hurt if he stood on Dean's feet.

Dean decided to teach Jack how to waltz first, the song ultimately making his mind up for him as it changed to "A White Christmas".

Dean grabbed Jack's hands. "Firstly I'm teaching you like this since then you can see what you are doing. Secondly and most importantly, listen okay Jack? I'm not repeating it endlessly." Dean waited for Jack's eager nod before guiding him in a basic box step, calling the steps out loud as they went. "Back, side, together. Good. Now. Forward, side, together. Again, back, side, together."

It continued in that vein for almost 3 songs, Sam following Dean's instructions as well, a fact not lost on Dean. Dean decided to start counting instead, calling out the numbers and using his grip on Jack's hands to push and pull him in the necessary direction when he forgot.

Dean eventually faded his counting out and let Jack figure it out for a while. Once he noticed Jack getting confident he stopped in his tracks. "Now for how you hold her. You are going to lead so I'm going to pretend to be her. Most important rule, do NOT look down, at all okay kid." Dean again waited for Jack to nod before arranging them in the hold. He then pulled away and redid it slowly for Jack. He again pulled away and let Jack show him this time. He then nodded to Jack and they begun to waltz around in their small square of movement. Dean got bored eventually and could feel Jack's attention slipping so he guided him through a few simple turns and then how to properly turn her and when it was appropriate before calling it quits with the words "they will teach you properly soon and this will be enough to get you through a few dances with other people."

He then attempted to teach Jack a faster dance to go with the faster songs and while Jack was quick to catch on, he still stumbled a few times. "We will try again tomorrow if you want kid." Dean said and when Jack agreed he turned toward the couch.

He stopped at the feeling of a hand grabbing his. He turned to face Eileen who smiled cheekily before signing "My turn." and pulling him away from the couches.

Dean glared at Sam who looked elated at the chance to rest his two left feet before turning back to Eileen and starting to dance with her to "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree." He hated to admit that it was great, she danced perfectly even though she couldn't hear the music and seemed to know what Dean wanted before he knew it himself. They were laughing when the song came to a close and Sam and Jack cheered for them.

"I wish to be able to dance like that one day." Jack stated, signing for Eileen's benefit.

Dean slapped his hand onto Jack's shoulder. "Practice bud." was all he said before collapsing on the couch.

After Jack, Sam and Eileen said their goodnights, Dean put out the presents from 'Santa' under their tree and did his due diligence, eating some of the cookies, drinking the milk and leaving half a carrot behind while he put the rest back into the fridge in Sam's special drawer that Jack wasn't allowed into.

He spoke to Cas through it all, giving him a run down of the dancing, the weird feeling he had when he saw how happy Sam was and even how sad he was that this was the first time any of them had even had to pretend Santa was real. He ended his daily conversation the same way he always did so that Cas knew it was him.

See you soon angel.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5: Panic and a Plan

2 months ago

Dean shuffled into the kitchen, rubbing his eyes with one hand as he started pouring himself coffee with the other. He froze when he heard Sam and Eileen arguing heatedly from the map room. He frowned and grabbed his coffee before going to see what the problem was.

Sam and Eileen were standing on opposite sides of the map table and Rowena was standing next to Sam, smirking. Dean blinked at Rowena's sudden appearance. She told them she didn't want to be involved in their messes anymore once Chuck was dealt with, she just wanted to rule Hell in peace so it was a surprise to see her in their bunker. "Rowena?" Dean muttered and she turned to him before smiling and pulling him into a hug that startled Dean.

"Hello dear." Rowena said brightly. "I was just telling Eileen here that it's better to make this spell stronger than it should be and she didn't like it when Sammy here agreed with me."

Dean blinked and set his coffee down. "What on God's green earth is she talking about?" He asked, headache already forming.

Sam cleared his throat and Dean took that as the cue that Sam would be explaining so he turned to his brother with a raised eyebrow. "We are hunting what we think is a Djinn and I happened across a spell a few months ago while cataloguing the archives that would help immobilise the Djinn before it can attack. Eileen pointed out that it was fine as it is stated here but I thought that it was always good to make it stronger since each Djinn is different. I called Rowena to see if it was possible to make it stronger but Eileen doesn't like the idea." Sam explained, running a hand through his hair and throwing pointed glares at Eileen.

"Better safe than sorry. That's what you taught me Dean." Eileen butted in with a voice so angry Dean wanted to run far away.

"Nonsense dearie. You forget who you have on your side. A spell I cast will never falter." Rowena said smugly.

"Alright then. In this case, I agree with Eileen. You don't know if this even works and so if it doesn't, you don't want to be caught in the crossfire." Dean said and ignored the bitchface from Sam, smiling at Eileen instead.

Sam sighed, giving up. "You'd better go get Jack. I sent him to the dungeon to get some more Griffin feather to amplify the spell." He said and started to mutter the words written on the page before him.

Rowena grabbed Dean's arm before he could go anywhere. "You aren't coming with us?" She queried with a smirk.

Dean shook his head, shrugging her hand off of him. "Nah. I'm retired now. Ever since we got Chuck, I'm no longer doing this whole thing. Now I wait here and help with research and give other hunters help when they need it." He said and left them all standing around the spell bowl to fetch his kid from the dungeon.

Dean hesitated outside the door to the dungeon. It was slightly open and he could hear Jack humming Eye Of The Tiger to himself. Dean smiled before squaring his shoulders and taking his first step inside the dungeon in almost 4 years, the door closing softly behind him.

"Jack?" He called, skin crawling and fingers tingling.

"Here at the back Dad. Come see this!"

Dean walked toward the eager voice, focusing on the excitement in Jack's voice and not on the way his heart seemed to race inside his chest.

Dean walked to the other end of the dungeon, almost giving up his search for Jack but then he heard a giggle and pulled the shelves open to reveal Jack, sitting against the back wall, giggling at a book in his hands. Dean frowned and stepped closer.

"Look! It's a naked fairy. I didn't know you got boy fairies." Jack laughed and showed Dean the picture.

Dean sighed and took the book away from Jack. "Really kid. Sam sends you to get one thing from this place and you get sidetracked! How did you even find this book?" he asked, helping Jack back up.

"I didn't know where the extra ingredients were kept so I had to look for an index like Sam said but then I found that book while looking for the index book and the pictures in there are in such detail." Jack explained, hands waving as he painted his picture.

Dean chuckled, put his hand on Jack's shoulder, and shook his head, turning to lead Jack out of the dungeon. "I'm such a bad influence on you kid. And the index is a card that gets stuck on the-" Dean stopped talking as his eyes fell on the door. The door that had shut behind him. The door that still held the sigil Cas had painted on it in his own blood to save Dean from Billy that day.

Dean could feel the tingling in his fingers spread up his arms to his elbows and there was tingling creeping up his legs now. He tried to take a deep breath like he had done the last time this happened but it didn't work, his chest felt like it had shrunk to a quarter of its original size and Dean couldn't shove more breath in it. There was also a pain right where his heart was and he let go of Jack's shoulder to grab at his chest, gasping as he did so.

He tried to tell Jack to go fetch someone but he couldn't breathe or talk or anything. His vision swam before him and he tried blinking the stars away. His hearing felt fuzzy and all of a sudden he was back there, hearing the echoes of Billy's knocking, her mocking voice and Cas slicing his hand open before painting the sigil on the door. He could hear Cas starting his speech that would lead to his eventual death and Dean started shaking his head, muttering "No." repeatedly but it wasn't working.

He could vaguely hear someone shouting his name but all he could see was Cas reaching out to him and he shut his eyes, clenching his hands into fists. "No, please don't." was all he got out before it all faded into the silent emptiness that he welcomed with a sigh.

 

*********

Jack's step faltered as he felt Dean freeze. He looked over at Dean and felt ice cold fear rush down his spine. Dean was gasping for breath, clutching at his heart with one hand while the other fumbled around his neck, pulling the collar of his shirt down again and again.

I heard that chest pains indicate a heart attack. Jack thought to himself, desperately laying his hands on Dean's shoulders, pushing his grace into him. His grace detected a bit of a sore knee that Jack fixed up but that was it, nothing else. Nothing to indicate why Dean couldn't breath and was starting to mumble things. All that Jack could detect was fear, panic, anxiety and dread but he couldn't fix that.

He pulled away from Dean and stared as his dad's eyes filled with tears and he continued to gasp and start to tremble slightly. That's when Jack panicked and, in the blink of an eye, stood before the three adults in the map room.

Sam and Rowena looked up at the noise he made as he entered and Eileen followed their stares. "You okay Jack?" Sam asked softly.

Jack shook his head. "There's something wrong with my dad." he managed to force out and was rewarded by Sam and Eileen immediately rushing toward the dungeon. Rowena was a tad slower but even she looked worried. Jack simply closed his eyes and when he opened them again he was back in the dungeon.

Dean was still standing in the middle of the room, gasping and starting to shake more violently than before. "Dad!" Jack shouted at Dean but got no response.

The door slammed open and the three adults rushed in much to Jack's relief. "I can't heal him. Nothing's happening. I can't help him and I don't know why it's not working!" Jack rambled, turning to Sam in desperation.

Jack watched as Sam grabbed his brother by the arms and hugged him. He looked at Eileen and frowned.

"Why is Sam doing that? Dad is dying and Sam is hugging him?" Jack signed to Eileen.

Eileen lay her hand on his arm, pulling him to one side while Sam continued to hug Dean and mutter to him.

"Jack," Eileen started softly, "Dean isn't dying. He will be fine in a few minutes. He's having a panic attack. It's what happens when you get really scared all of a sudden and can't stop yourself from immediately thinking about the worst thing that can happen to you and imagining it."

Jack tilted his head slightly. "Why doesn't he just stop imagining then?"

Eileen smiled at him. "It's not that simple Jack. Something reminded him of a terrible thing that happened in his life and he is forced to react how his body chooses to. The only way to stop it is to sit through it and hopefully he knows that we are here. You can't panic okay! Not even when he is better." Eileen then guided him back to where Sam had gotten Dean to sit down but all that had accomplished was that Dean had now wrapped his arms around his bent knees and was rocking back and forth, muttering to himself.

Jack sat next to his Dad and gripped his arm tightly. He could hear what Dean was saying even though it made no sense. All Dean was saying was "please don't" and "no" repeatedly. Jack felt his heart almost break at the sight of his strong Dad reduced to tears by the memories his brain was playing for him.

Jack wrapped his arms around Dean's shoulders and pulled him into his chest, halting Dean's movements. "Please Dad. I need you. Don't leave me." Jack muttered into his Dad's hair.

Eileen eventually joined Sam on the floor and Rowena sat in the chair in the middle of the devil's trap and they waited until Dean had passed out in Jack's arms.

"C'mon. I'll help you get him to bed." Sam said and lifted Dean off the floor like a child and started out the door.

Jack followed Sam closely and waited until Dean was in bed and all tucked in before he joined the rest of the family in the kitchen for some breakfast.

 

********

Dean knew that he was out of the dungeon as soon as he regained consciousness. He could feel his mattress holding him close and could feel the blankets pressing into him.

He breathed in deep and opened his eyes, squinting before his eyes adjusted to the light. He barely registered that he wasn't alone before there was a loud shriek and he let out a grunt as a heavy weight fell onto him and arms wrapped around his neck.

Dean smiled and wrapped his arms around Jack before seeing Sam and Eileen in the corner, also looking relieved. Dean's attention was brought back to the adult-child in his arms as he heard a voice whisper in his ear. "I was so worried Dad. I thought you were dying."

Dean pushed Jack back a little before smiling at him softly. "Never kiddo. I'll never leave you." He whispered back and was rewarded by another hug.

"Glad you are awake Dean, we were all worried about you." Sam said, exhaustion coating every syllable.

"How long?" Dean asked.

"About 15 minutes in the dungeon and then 5 hours of sleeping." Sam answered him, coming closer to Dean's bed.

Dean nodded thoughtfully before turning to Jack. "Hey Jack, can you go get me a sandwich and water please kid? I'm so hungry I could eat you!" he asked before chuckling when Jack squealed and shot out of his arms.

"Okay Dad, see you now." and off his kid rushed.

Dean sat up and faced Sam grimly, knowing he was about to get lectured.

 

******

Jack wasn't stupid, he knew he wasn't needed at that conversation and he was happy to get away from Sam's frown. He made his Dad some lunch and got juice ready, before sitting at the table.

He waited for Sam and Eileen to walk past and toward the Dean Cave and then counted to 100 and back again before slowly picking up the food and juice and going to Dean's room.

He knocked on the ajar door and pushed it open, stopping dead at the sight of Dean, sitting on the side of his bed, hunched over and silent.

"Dad?" Jack called, putting the lunch down and hurrying to Dean.

Dean looked up and smiled a watery smile before patting the bed next to him. He waited for Jack to sit down before handing him the pictures he had been holding.

There were a few of Sam and Dean and some of Sam, Dean and Cas either at the bunker or out on what Jack assumed were hunts. As Jack flipped through the small collection, He noticed that there were some of himself with Cas as well as himself with Dean and Sam. There were pictures of all four of them together and some of each of Dean's family members individually. Jack even saw some of Eileen.

He flipped to the last photo and frowned. He recognised Dean but he had no idea who the other two people were. He looked at Dean with a question in his eyes and for the next hour or so, Dean explained who they were and what had happened. He also added in a few stories that made Jack realise how much Dean missed these two people.

Once Dean was finished with his storytelling and his food and drink, Jack left him to get ready for bed again and wondered off to find Sam.

He found him in the Dean Cave and knocked on the door frame. "Tell Dean that I'll be back soon please Sam." He asked and waited for Sam to agree before disappearing, his next stop already in his mind.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6: A Welcome Surprise???

1 month ago

The teenager looked around. There wasn't much in the way of scenery and if he hadn't known to turn off the road when he did, he would have missed the driveway altogether. He now stood at the door and took a deep breath. In his one hand, he had a blue folder with all sorts of papers inside it. His other hand was hesitating at the door. He squared his shoulders and knocked loudly, breath leaving in a rush as he realised that there was no going back.

 

*******

Sam was pissed. Firstly Eileen had gone off on some personal mission to Ireland and wouldn't be back for another month at least and all she told him was that it had to do with her family. Secondly Dean had taken Baby to fill her tank up with the promise of bringing lunch back but he had obviously gotten waylaid as it had been over 2 hours and he still wasn't back.

He had just sat down to watch a historical documentary on Old Egypt in the Dean Cave when someone knocked at the door, the knock echoing through the bunker. Sam looked around before quickly grabbing the gun he kept under the couch and started toward the door.

Hey Jack, not to bother you but someone is here and it might be trouble.

His prayer out of the way, Sam slowly opened the door, keeping the gun out of view but ready to use. He blinked in confusion when he saw a teenage boy, around 16, looking back at him with a folder in his hand and a frown on his face.

"You aren't Dean Winchester." the boy stated simply, both hands now holding the folder tight.

Sam shook his head. "No I'm his brother, Sam." Sam explained shortly, tucking the gun into the back of his pants so the boy couldn't see it. "You are?" he added when the boy said nothing.

"Benjamin Braedon." the boy answered, coming to life and extending his hand for Sam to shake, not noticing how pale Sam had gotten at the sound of his name.

They shook hands and then Sam stepped aside. "Come in Benjamin. Dean just went to town, he should be back soon." he said and closed the door once Benjamin was inside, leading him down the stairs and into the kitchen. "Tea, coffee or juice?" he offered.

"Coffee please." came the quiet answer and Sam turned to make the coffee, leaving the boy free to look around the kitchen eagerly.

Sam had just given the child his coffee when he heard Baby pull up. "Dean's home." he said in relief and watched Benjamin nod and take a deep breath.

They both watched as Dean came in carrying two brown paper bags with one hand and clutching his phone to his ear with the other.

"I said no Claire and no means no. Someone could get hurt and then? Who's going to help you guys if you are in the middle of nowhere with no service or any place to quickly run to for help?!" Dean's voice was agitated and he rolled his eyes and set the bags down hard on the island, still not looking at anything except the bags. "No I don't care if Jack will be there with you. He is staying normal." There was a slight pause before Dean pulled a face. "Fine fine. I'll see you tonight. Tell Jack that I said I expect him to buckle up okay!"

Finally Dean put away his phone and looked up at Sam. "Why are you standing in the kitchen Sammy? I would've brought your food to you." he said with a grin before turning to walk out the kitchen and promptly stopping dead still as he took in the sight of a teenager at the table. "What the fuck?"

 

*********

Dean was in shock. He knew that but the sight of Ben sitting at his kitchen table, sipping coffee was too much all at once. He felt Sam grip his shoulder and force him into the chair opposite Ben before vanishing down the hall without another word.

"Hi um Dean." came the voice from the other side of the table. "I'm Benjamin. I don't know of you remember me. Jack said that my memories were gone but he didn't say anything about yours." Ben explained quickly, stumbling over his words like he couldn't get them out quick enough.

Dean shook his head hurriedly. "Of course I remember you Ben!" he rushed to reassure the boy who was once like a son to him. "Wait, you know Jack?" Dean needed to know the story so he could subtly correct the boy before all hell broke loose.

Ben nodded. "Yup. He came around to my aunt's house one day and explained what happened to me and my mom and then touched my head and I got all tingly and then I remembered everything. That year with you being there and then the next few months with you in and out and of course I remember shooting that monster. A few months ago my friends and I went shooting, those clay things that fly, and they even said that I seemed to know my way around a gun. It didn't make sense then but after Jack came, it did."

Dean listened to Ben's story in a daze. "If you know, does your mom know?" was all he could ask.

Ben's face fell. "No." He seemed to think about something before nodding to himself. "I had to move in with my aunt and uncle and their kids about 3 and a half years ago. My mom died from a heart attack that the doctors said was a freak side effect from her iron pills. So I moved in with my aunt and them."

Dean watched as Ben battled through the story, tears falling as the last sentence left his mouth. Dean was up and around the table before anyone could blink, hugging Ben to him and letting the kid sob.

Jack you get your feathered ass in here this instant young man! I need an explanation right now. Dean's prayer was so angry, he hoped Jack wouldn't waste time by pretending not to hear him.

Ben pulled away from Dean and took a sip of his coffee. "Once Jack gave me my memories back, I looked into a few things back at home and then came here with the directions he gave me." Ben said and shoved the blue folder toward Dean who had sat next to Ben.

Dean pulled the folder closer to himself before looking back up at Ben. "I'm sorry." He said softly. "For your mother, for leaving you all of a sudden, for shoving you that one night, for asking Cas to take your memories. I'm just so sorry Ben." Dean explained further as Ben looked at him curiously. He hoped Ben had missed the way he had to take an extra breath before saying Cas' name.

Ben smiled. "I forgave you as soon as I got my memories back and Jack explained what all has happened since. I just didn't want to see you until I was sure of everything." He said and looked at the folder pointedly. "Open it." Ben encouraged.

Dean did. The first thing on top was directions to the bunker which Ben hurriedly snatched to put in his pocket for "the next time." That made Dean smile and turn his attention to the photograph that was next on the pile.

It was of him and Ben in the garage. Lisa must have taken it while they weren't looking as both of them were crouched over the hood of Baby and Dean was pointing to something while Ben looked focused, standing on a box to see inside the hood. "I remember this. It was the first time I showed you Baby after you had begged for almost 4 months to see her. You wanted to know everything about her and how to take care of her. It was one of my favourite days that year." Dean reminisced and put the photo to one side, catching the sad smile crossing Ben's face.

Jack took that moment to interrupt them, the flickering lights all the warning Dean got before Jack appeared at the other end of the kitchen. "You called Dad?" Jack said brightly, taking a step toward Dean before stopping. "Ben! You made it. Finally!"

Dean winced at the volume and glanced at Ben who looked pale and shocked. "Jack." Dean uttered, stopping Jack who looked like he wanted to hug Ben.

Jack looked at Dean before smiling. "Sorry. You first." and he skipped around the table to crash into Dean and squeeze him.

Dean rolled his eyes fondly before sterling himself to lecture Jack, something he wasn't good at. "Jack you can't just appear. You scared Ben. And hell, I mean heck, you can't just go around giving people their memories back without checking first to see if they should get them back. Imagine if Ben had freaked out and run around telling everyone he knew where we stayed. Need I remind you that Sam and I are technically dead in 4 states and wanted in another?"

Dean was proud of himself for managing to get through that without breaking, especially when Jack started giving him the kicked puppy look.

Dean couldn't help the quick "Jesus, he is definitely your child Cas." that ran across his mind, making him flinch slightly at the name but helping him stand his ground.

"Ben's fine with it and I made sure he was before I left to see Claire. I wasn't going to ask him to drive me to see Claire and Aunt Jody so I had to explain what and who I was so that I could leave like I do normally. I did explain that I could not help his mother because I was not interfering in any matters of the sort." Jack explained, losing the puppy look and clapping his hands together excitedly. "I did think he would have been here much sooner though." Jack mused.

Dean shook his head before jumping at the sound of Ben's voice. "I got here eventually. Just needed some other shit first." Ben said and stood up to pull Jack into a hug.

"Language." Dean half-heartedly muttered before melting inside at the fact that Ben had accepted Jack as well as Dean's other lifestyle so easily.

"Now if you will excuse me. Claire is in need of my assistance. We will see you tonight Dad. Maybe you too Ben?" Jack said and hugged them both goodbye before disappearing into thin air.

Ben sat down with a grin and took another long sip of coffee. "It's fine. Me and him are cool. He is actually really fun to be around." He said to Dean who sighed in relief and sat down again, grabbing the folder and opening it back up.

The next document he saw stole his breath right out of his body and made his hands shake.

The alleged father is NOT excluded as the biological father.

Those were the words that jumped out at Dean as he looked at the paper. His eyes shot up to look at Ben who just stared at him.

Dean looked back down at the paper and read it carefully. It showed his DNA being compared to Ben's and the result was that he was Ben's father, not the one night stand that Lisa had claimed all those years ago.

"She did test me." Ben said, laying a hand on Dean's arm.

"You need blood for this. Where did she get my blood?" Dean asked, still staring down at the paper that disproved everything Lisa had ever told him.

"My aunt says that mom did it one night while you were sleeping. She used to be a nurse so she knew what to do. She got her friend to run it without too many questions." Ben explained and Dean thought back to the one morning he had woken up with a small tape and gauze over his arm and thought he had forgotten where he had cut himself.

"So I'm your dad? She never told me. I even asked her at your eighth party and she specifically told me no." Dean said, voice growing louder.

"I know Dean. I know. When you first arrived to stay with us after your brother died, mom explained that you weren't my dad, somebody else was. I wanted to call you Dad then but when she said that you weren't my dad I called you Dean. Only to find out she lied to me and I could have had a dad all along." Ben's voice shook at the end of his speech and Dean pulled him into another hug.

"I always thought you were too much like me, kid. If she told me the truth I would never have left you. You have to believe that. I would have stayed and been the best dad ever." Dean said, his eyes growing wet.

Ben pulled away and cleared his throat. "You can start now." He said and pointed toward the last two papers in the folder.

Dean didn't want to look but he had to. The first was letter from Lisa addressed to Dean in her handwriting which he left on the side. The second was a stiff paper that Dean had to smile at. It was Ben's birth certificate and it listed Dean Winchester as the father and Lisa Braedon as the mother.

Dean looked at Ben and smiled, tears shining in both of their eyes. "I'm your dad?" Dean asked, even though the proof lay on the table in front of them.

Ben nodded and Dean had to hug him again, this time tighter than before.

Ben pulled away too quickly for Dean's liking but Dean didn't protest once he saw how nervous Ben was. "So I've given you proof and since you are legally my dad, can I ask you a big favour?" Ben asked him earnestly and waited for his nod. "Can I come live with you?"

There was complete silence that Ben took as a no. "Please. My aunt has 6 other children to look after and I only went to live with her because the court couldn't find you and had to go against my mom's will and your legal rights when they sent me to live with my aunt and uncle. Please Dean?!" Ben pleased with him, close to proper tears this time.

"Your mom wanted you to come to me if she died?" Dean asked. Ben nodded. "Well we will have to talk to your aunt and uncle and see what a lawyer says about it all but Ben, I would love to have you here with me."

Dean barely got the last word out before his arms were full of a teenage boy that didn't really fit. Dean held on just as tight as Ben was holding him and over his son's shoulder he could see what he had missed on the birth certificate the first time. Right at the top, in big, bold letters stood Ben's name Benjamin Isaac Winchester-Braedon. Dean looked at it and smiled, holding Ben closer and thanking Jack for making this happen.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7: Understanding Your Brother is Hard.

1 month ago (Continued)

Sam peeked around the corner and saw Ben and Dean hugging it out at the table. He deemed it safe to go in and rescue his admittedly cold food from the table. "You all good?" He asked, taking out the Chinese Dean had bought and trying to see if it was warm enough to still eat.

"Sammy look!" Came the excited statement. Sam turned to look at Dean but came face to face with a piece of paper. He pulled his head back so quickly his neck gave a small twinge.

Sam rolled his eyes but grabbed the paper that had been shoved in his face with one hand and brought the other up to massage his neck. He raised his eyebrows at the fact that Dean was Ben's biological father before putting the paper down. "This is great Dean but, not to be a wet blanket and all, this doesn't get you anywhere but here. You can't do much with this unless you want to go to court and argue it and even then there's little chance you will actually win since Lisa isn't here to testify and say that you aren't his father."

Sam's speech was met with horrified silence. "What?" He questioned the silent kitchen.

"I'm happy Samantha. I said to Ben that I thought I was his, you know, but Lisa said I wasn't so I left it at that." Dean grinned at Ben before turning back to Sam and holding out a separate paper. "Here's another one since you look like you don't believe me."

Sam took the page from Dean and scanned it, realising it was a DNA test. He turned back to Dean, horrified. "Dude seriously? Where did Lisa even get your blood?"

Dean folded his arms and glared at Sam. "Why are you not happy? I'm happy. Ben is happy. You aren't. Dude you are killing the mood." Dean said, even though sulking was beneath him.

Sam couldn't believe his ears, grabbing Dean's arm and yelling at him. "Are you seriously telling me that your reaction after finding out you have a son, who isn't exactly small, is to be happy and welcome him with open arms? You are seriously messed up Dean."

Dean's eyes widened in shock and he shook Sam's hand off. Sam felt slightly guilty that he had to yell at his brother so he reached for him again, pleading with him. "Dean wait, I just meant-"

He was cut off by Dean lifting a hand. "You can't just be happy for me can you Sammy?" Dean asked him and it made Sam feel about 2 feet small.

"Look Dean, I just meant that you were never ready to be a father then so what makes you think you are able to be one now when Ben is all grown up and ready to leave?" Sam posed the question to his brother, trying to come across as sincere.

Dean's face hardened and Sam flinched, wondering where he had gone wrong. "Never ready to be a father? What on earth do you think I've been since I was 4 fucking years old Sam! Or have you forgotten who gave you the last of the Lucky Charms when you didn't want Spagetti-O's? Or the time I had to take you to the doctor when you ran a fever since dad was on a case? Or the time that you got your first girlfriend and I gave you the money I had saved so that you could take her on a few nice dates? Who was I then because it sure as shit wasn't your brother?!"

There wasn't a single coherent thought in Sam's mind as Dean stood in the kitchen, raging at his little brother. There was silence for a moment before Sam opened his mouth and uttered a sentence he knew would get them absolutely nowhere but he had to get rid of his guilt somehow. "I never fucking asked you to do all that shit for me Dean. That was on you."

Sam knew he had gone too far when Dean stepped right up to him to say, in a voice too loud for the kitchen, "Should I have stayed in the boy's home Sam? Left you with dad? Let you fend for yourself from the ripe old age of 10? You wouldn't have lasted a week without me and you know it but I should've stayed there, maybe they would've appreciated the shit I did for them instead of you."

That cut right to Sam's heart and he couldn't take it anymore. "Fine Dean. I'm sorry okay. Just, it's a lot all at once." Sam muttered, expecting an apology from Dean too.

What he didn't expect was the eye roll and muttered "Yeah sure," that he got from Dean but Sam decided to roll with the punches instead of punching back.

"So what's next for you two?" He asked, clearing his throat and looking at Ben who looked scared.

Dean also looked back, patted Ben's shoulder and started gathering papers back into a pile while answering Sam somewhat stiltedly. "Ben here wanted to move in with me, well with us, and I said to him that-"

Sam couldn't hold on anymore and cut Dean off. "What?" He burst out loudly before continuing softer than before. "He can't just move in. What about our work? Where would he sleep? We can't support him Dean, don't be dumb. And anyway, he is staying with family isn't he? Are they moving in too or is it just party of one? I can't believe you would just let him stay without checking first to see if he can legally come to you since he hasn't been staying with you! Why now anyway? What was stopping him before?" Sam stopped to draw breath.

"Shut up Samuel." Was the answer from Dean, voice cold and calm. It shut Sam right up. "As I was saying, I was going to hire a lawyer to sort through this stuff and see if Ben could legally move in here with little fuss. First I was going to talk to his aunt and uncle about it and introduce myself a little. Secondly, you know nothing about him or his family so don't you dare ever speak about Ben like that again, do you hear me?" Dean's voice was dangerous, the kind of voice he used to use with trapped monsters.

That got a quick nod out of Sam before they were interrupted by Ben who seemed indignant. "I would never leave my family." Ben said and Sam winced as memories of how he had just left Dean hanging came back to him. Ben continued, thankfully stopping the trip down memory lane. "For your information, my mom died from an accident with her medication and I've been living with my aunt who only got given custody of me because they couldn't find a trace of Dean anywhere. I also didn't come immediately after Jack gave me my memories back because I was angry. I was angry that Dean had left and I was angry that I couldn't stop him from going. I wanted to get over that and then I wanted proof so that he couldn't just send me away like you wanted to do just now."

Sam wasn't sure what to say after that confession but Dean beat him to it. "Ben, you have every right to be angry. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't be. I'll still be here if you want to hate me one day but want to fish with me the next okay? Please remember that." Dean said and gave Ben another hug.

Sam picked up his food again, resigning himself to cold takeaway before stopping and looking at his brother, dead in the eyes. "Be careful. It might not be as simple as you think and anyway, you already have one person calling you Dad, I'm not sure you should get another." He said before walking to his room, movie forgotten and completely missing the devastated look on Dean's face as his words hit home.

 

*******

"He's right you know." Dean said to Ben while he dished up reheated Chinese for them. "Jack calls me Dad sometimes and it might be weird for you to be here when he is because he isn't really my child but he feels like he is and I'm sorry I was never there for you but I'll try." Dean explained further at Ben's raised eyebrow.

"No Dean, don't apologise for you and Jack." Ben said and chewed another mouthful of food, swallowing, before continuing. "You and Jack have had a few years to solidify what is a serious bond and of course he is going to call you Dad but it's not fair for me to be jealous when I've only known about you for a little over 2 months and you didn't even know that I knew. It's not realistic for me to come in and undo all the work you put in with Jack. He told me about all the things you do with him now that the world is better. He really does enjoy helping with your car and you teaching him how to fish. Said it's what someone called Cas would've wanted."

Dean felt his heart break a little at the name but blinked back any tears not related to how sweet and kind Ben actually was. "That's kind of you. Not everyone thinks like that. Most would be jealous." Dean said to him.

Ben shrugged. "If it all goes according to plan, I can hopefully also be a part of these fishing trips. Mom hated fishing and Uncle Shane never fishes so I'm excited to learn."

Dean smiled at that small statement before nodding his head. "Okay then," he said, "after you've eaten, I'll phone your aunt and discuss things with her before I phone a lawyer. If you are still cool with it after all the arguing that is?" Dean was suddenly unsure if Ben even still wanted to live here.

"Of course I'm okay with it! I've always wanted a brother so I can't wait to be here when Jack is. He will have to show me what he is into, maybe we can build a Lego Death Star. That would be amazing." Ben said excitedly.

Dean let him carry on, happily eating his lunch and hoping that the way ahead with Ben wasn't going to be too difficult. He knew that the legal things would be hard to get through but he was more worried about the fact that it all had a golden tinge to it and one day, when Ben had finally settled, he wouldn't want to stay with Dean anymore and would move on.

God Cas, I hope I'm not taking on too much too soon. I know Ben is excited and I'm sure Jack is thrilled at the fact that he gets a brother... sort of. I'm just hoping that nothing else happens to fuck it all up, we both know that that being me is a huge possibility. Me fucking up that is. I know what you would tell me. You would say that I need to have faith in myself and that I can do this better than I think but it doesn't stop me from basically shitting myself at the thought of being a dad to 2 grown people already. I wish you were here Angel. I miss you so much and I know that you would be up to helping me. See you soon Angel.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8: Family Ties and Moving Days.

Now

Ben zipped his last suitcase shut and turned in a slow circle, trying to see if he had forgotten anything. He nodded to himself and picked up his phone, sliding it into his pocket of his jacket and grabbing his suitcases to wrestle them down the stairs where Dean was waiting in his aunt's living room.

When he had finally gotten his suitcases down to the ground floor, he was pleasantly surprised at the laughter he could hear coming from the living room. He left his stuff by the stairs and hurried to see what everyone was laughing at.

His aunt was laughing so hard she was crying, his uncle wasn't too far behind and Dean was smiling proudly at them. Two of his older cousins were also chuckling at what seemed to be a very good joke that Dean had made. Ben smiled, glad the family present liked Dean. He wished his four other cousins could meet Dean too but they had school and collage to go to so they had promised to meet him soon.

"I'm ready." He said from the doorway, the adults in the room wiping their tears and turning to him.

"So soon. Honey I'm going to miss you round here." His aunt Gloria said sadly.

Ben shrugged. "At least you can get your closet back." He offered and got a smile from his aunt in return.

They all started for Baby, Ben with his two suitcases that had wheels, Dean with the older suitcase his aunt had borrowed him for his other clothes and his uncle and cousins with a few boxes that had his things and some of his mom's things in. They carefully packed the car, Ben grinning each time somebody bumped the car which made Dean wince.

Once Ben was all packed there were hugs all around and offers for a visit whenever Ben wanted. He found himself grateful that the lawyers hadn't taken too long to sort things out and he knew that even though his aunt and uncle were sad to see him go, they were relieved that they didn't need to worry about another child in their already full household.

He waved as him and Dean drove away until they turned a corner and couldn't see the house anymore. Ben then turned back around in his seat only to meet Dean's stern gaze. "What?" He asked, looking around the car, worried he had messed up the seats already.

"Seatbelt. I didn't ruin Baby's interior for them to be ignored." Dean said with a grin and then turned his attention back to the road. "After you are safely belted in, look under your seat. There are some tapes there. Choose your favourite and let's get this party started." Dean continued with a laugh.

Ben did as instructed and safely did his safety belt up before looking under the seat and pulling out a box of tapes that looked old enough to fall apart if he just touched them. He gingerly sifted through them before stumbling upon a newer looking one titled "Dean's Top Zepp Trax x" and pulling it out.

"Is this Led Zepplin?" He asked Dean, curiously examining the tape.

"It is yes." came the pained response.

Ben looked up at the pain in Dean's voice, shocked at how pale he had gotten. He looked back down at the tape in his hands, now certain it held untold secrets if the glazed look in Dean's eyes said anything.

Ben hurriedly put the tape back in the box before pulling out AC/DC. "That's cool, I'm not really sure about Zepplin though. You can't go wrong with AC/DC at all so let's do this one." Ben paused while he looked at the radio. "How do I put this is?" He asked, trying to see if there were any instructions to the tape.

Dean seemed to shake himself slightly before chuckling and explaining how to put the tape in and start it up. Soon they were cruising to the sounds of AC/DC and Ben could almost forget the haunted look in Dean's eyes.

They got through almost 5 songs before Dean suddenly turned the music down, startling Ben out of his thoughts. He turned anxiously to Dean, scared he had done something wrong or dumb.

"Listen, you have a room back at the bunker but I don't want you to unpack too much stuff okay." Dean said, uncertainly.

Ben's heart sank in his chest and he knew that this was the proverbial other shoe. Dean was offering him a place to stay because he felt like he had to. Ben felt terrible and wished he had asked about the room situation before jumping at the chance to move out of his literal closet back with his aunt. He wondered if Dean would turn around and take him back to his aunt if he asked him to. Maybe if he said please, his aunt and uncle would take him back.

"No wait, shit, I'm complete rubbish at this stuff kid." Dean's pleading voice broke through his depressing thoughts. "I meant that you mustn't unpack your stuff since you aren't going to stay long."

"Oh." Was all Ben could muster out of his despair.

"No, again, I suck at this, come on Dean. You can do it." Now it sounded like Dean was talking to himself so Ben sat and waited quietly, trying not to let disappointment and anguish flood him.

Dean pulled Baby over onto the side of the road and turned to face Ben. "Let me start again. Ben, what I wanted to say is that don't unpack everything since I'm looking at other houses and other places to live and I'm hoping that you'll come with me?" Dean explained.

Ben was stumped. "I thought you loved the bunker? It has the Dean Cave and everything." Was all the response Ben managed, shocked that Dean would want to leave his brother and his home.

"I love the bunker but it's huge and anyway, Sam has Eileen, she's his girlfriend. She was away when you came last time. She only gets back tomorrow but that's not the point. The point is, is that I don't want to live in the bunker forever, especially now that I'm not hunting any more. I can research from anywhere in the world and I wanted you and Jack to have someplace where you can actually see the sun and not just the artificial sun we get in the bunker."

Ben sat and waited but it seemed like Dean was finished and so Ben threw his arms around Dean and squeezed, hard.

"Jesus kid, don't kill me yet." Dean gasped but hugged Ben back.

"Of course I want to come with you. It will be so cool. I thought you didn't want me for a moment and I wanted to go back but now I can't wait! Do you have some places in mind already? How soon would we go? Can I choose my room first or maybe Jack should since he was your son first? Can we get a pool? I've always wanted a pool." The words tumbled out of Ben's mouth but he couldn't stop them, his relief that Dean wasn't sick of him already was overpowering and it made itself known in the endless questions he threw at Dean.

He stopped when Dean shook his head and raised his hand. "I've only started thinking about this in the last 2 months Ben. It might not happen for a while. I must still talk to Sam and discuss shit with him before doing anything anyway." Dean explained, making Ben's excitement dim slightly before it perked up again.

"Can I move schools? I hated the one my aunt put me in. Can we move closer to my old school so that I can see my friends again? Or if we don't move there can my friends come sleepover anyway? That would be epic." Ben was slightly embarrassed at the rate words were falling out of his mouth but he needed to know everything. He was only vaguely aware that Dean had started Baby up again and was driving them back to the bunker. All he could talk about was what the house should look like, changing his mind every few sentences and going over where they should live and where he didn't want to live. He couldn't wait to move into this dream house and finally settle in one place. He only hoped that he got to pick his room before Jack did.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9: Tours and Tears

Dean helped Ben take his stuff out of the car. He grabbed a suitcase and ushered Ben out of the garage. "Let me show you your room and which bathroom you can use and then I'll leave you to it." He said, shepherding Ben down a few corridors.

"This is my room, don't be afraid to knock if you need something. Then we have another room." Dean said as he walked down the corridor that held the bedrooms, making sure Ben understood him. When Ben had nodded, Dean continued his mini tour. "Then it's a bathroom that you can use. Jack is the only other one who uses it. My bathroom is on the other side of my room. Then it's Jack's room and finally," Dean stopped at a room just 4 doors down from his own, "this is your room." He said and gestured to a plain looking door. "I would put you closer but I didn't think you wanted to be right on top of me, not now at least. But Jack is right next door if you need someone urgently." Dean explained, suddenly shy. "If you want, I can move you to the other side of my room, next to my bathroom but then you have to be on top of me and Sam and I'm not sure if that's what you want but it's totally cool of it is."

Ben smiled brightly before reassuring Dean that the room was perfect and he didn't want to move.

Dean sighed in relief before opening the door and letting Ben look around his room in awe while he quickly went to fetch some more of his stuff. He bumped into Sam on the way and grabbed his arm, dragging him along.

"Dude. Get off." Sam grouched and tried to shake Dean off but Dean held on tighter.

"Is someone losing their touch Sammy?" Dean teased his brother before dropping his arm and the joke altogether. "Help me bring Ben's stuff to his room Sam. You haven't exactly rolled out the red carpet so you can help now and show him that you aren't that much of a dick." Dean continued, punching his brother's shoulder lightly.

Sam rolled his eyes but dutifully followed his brother to the garage and helped Dean grab most of the stuff. All that was left was a box and a duffel but they couldn't carry any more so they both started toward Ben's room.

"Is all this stuff going to fit in his room?" Sam asked after they had walked most of the way in silence and Dean could hear the doubt in his voice.

"Probably not." Dean said cheerfully, shouldering open Ben's door to drop his load of things onto the bed.

Ben had started to unpack his clothes into the cupboard neatly. "Thanks Dean, Thanks Sam." Ben said and gave each of them a quick hug.

"There's one more left, I'll get it quickly." Dean said and him and Sam took their leave.

On the way back through the winding halls of the bunker Sam broached a topic that nearly sent Dean into a panic attack and he didn't want a repeat of that particular morning.

"You didn't give him Cas' old room?" Sam questioned and Dean's heart sped up at the sound of his name.

Dean ignored Sam and just shrugged in order to end the conversation quickly.

Sam shook his head but Dean could see that the matter was dropped. "So where is he going to put shit that doesn't fit in his room?" Sam asked instead.

They had reached the garage and Dean picked up the last box, Sam grabbing the duffel, and they turned back for the last time. "He can keep it in its box or suitcase or something in a corner of his room." Dean said nonchalantly, swinging round a corner and making Sam groan as his path was cut off.

"Seriously Dean? You are a child." Sam whined and Dean mentally fist pumped the air. "But he can't live like that for long." Sam carried on, brushing aside their small feud like a pro.

Dean shrugged before replying. "We aren't going to live here forever dude."

"What!" The exclamation burst of of Sam and made Dean pause in the middle of the hallway.

"Yeah Sammy. Now that Ben wants to live with me, I was thinking of moving out, getting my own place. Somewhere quiet where Jack and Ben can bring friends and girlfriends, or boyfriends, if they want to. I want someplace that Ben's family can visit without questioning my ability to raise a child safely." Dean tells him, waiting eagerly for his brothers well wishes and helpful comments on lists and things you should do with a house.

He is instead met with a stony silence before Sam's face falls. "You are leaving me? After all we have been through, you are going to take a couple of kids, who aren't even yours by the way, and just ditch me?" Sam says despondently.

Dean put the box he was carrying down and attempts to smooth things over, Sam's comments stinging. "Those kids are mine, in every sense of the word. That's not the real point though. I would not leave you completely. I would still visit and anyway, you and Eileen are engaged and all so you are living your life, I just want to live mine." Dean sighs, tired of this already and knowing that Sam isn't done with how red his face is getting.

"I can't believe it. You are going to walk out on the only place you called home in years and leave it. What about Miracle? You going to leave him too? You are going to leave me. What if I need you? You aren't here to quickly get help. And what happens when Jack and Ben get married and move along? Will you be happy in your precious house all alone? What about hunting? You made a promise to Dad and already you are backing out slightly by refusing to actually hunt and just research shit all the time. Why would you want to move out anyway? What does a new place have that the bunker doesn't?" Dean knows that Sam doesn't mean to hurt him but he can't stop the guilt rising from deep but being overwhelmed by the ache that Sam's words are causing his heart.

"Sam please. I'm not leaving because I don't love you or Eileen or the bunker any less. I would hope that you know me better by now than to think that I will just leave one day and never talk to you again. And I wouldn't leave Miracle, he would come with me and the boys." Dean started but Sam interrupted him again.

"I don't care that you would take your stupid dog! Why would you leave all of this behind? Why would you want to research for hours when there is all this knowledge right here? I can't believe that you would want to move away from me and that you expect me to let you go, with a smile on my face and a cheerful wave too. You dragged me into this life all those years ago and now you want out? Screw you Dean." Sam said furiously.

Dean sighed, his shoulders sagging as all the fight went out of him. His anger turned to pain and grief and he knew that Sam registered his change in emotion as soon as Dean knew it himself. Dean could feel it on his face and knew that Sam saw it too since Sam immediately lost the defiant set of his shoulders, concern warring with anger on his face. The concern won and Sam stepped forward with a concerned, "Dean?"

Dean blinked back tears before replying to his brother. "I'm just so tired Sammy. I'm tired of having to live like this. I want to see the sun, I want to watch the sun rise and set. I want a garden with a few toys that Jack is too big for but gets anyway. I want Ben to be able to show his girlfriend his favourite albums while having a picnic in the shade of a tree in the backyard. I wish I didn't have to pretend to like hunting. I only ever did it to please Dad and it was never enough and then he disappeared and we had to find him and then you were loving it and I was enjoying having my baby brother around again so I couldn't bring myself to tell you that I wanted out before we had even begun." Dean said, hands and voice trembling as he started his next train of thought as his eyes fell to a specific fork in the corridor they were standing in. "I wish I didn't have to look at Cas's room every day and feel like my heart is breaking but I also can't put his things away because then it would feel like he is gone completely and I can't deal with that Sam, I just can't. I just want to be able to walk into every room in my house without immediately thinking that that is where Cas knocked his shin or that is where Cas said he loved me and then fucking died in my arms. I haven't even been back in the dungeon since my panic attack because I'm too scared to see the place where we stood or the sigil on the door." Dean was openly crying now and he knew that Sam was at a loss for words.

"Shh Dean. It's okay." Sam said awkwardly and patted his shoulder.

Dean knocked his hand away impatiently, needing to drive home his point. "Did you know that I also can't go into the second laundry since it has the soap Cas used to use and the smell makes me miss him? I can't go into the archive room without feeling like I'm going to panic myself to death. Even the rooftop garden we have hurts since he started it and never got to see it bloom. I just want a fucking house that I can go into each room in peace and stop feeling like I miss my best friend every time. I need a fresh start Sam, we all do." Dean said and then wiped his tears angrily. "Take this to Ben." He muttered and stormed off to his room, slamming the door behind him and collapsing face first onto his bed, shoes and all. Dean finally allowed the tears to fall properly, soaking his pillow in a few seconds but hardly noticing.

It hurts too much. You used to say that humans were adaptable and recovered from losses surprisingly quickly but I think I'm broken Angel. It's been close to 4 years and I'm still as hurt by what you did as I was then. God I'm a mess. No wonder Sam wants me to stay, he probably thinks that I'll start drinking again if I live alone, especially once Jack and Ben have moved on or started collage. I wish you were here. Imagining what you would say or do just makes me hurt even more since I don't even know if that is what you would say and do. Like today when we were moving boxes and shit for Ben, I thought that you would roll your eyes but gladly help amd with your angel strength, we could've had only one trip. But you might have also not wanted to help at all or insisted you do it the 'human' way and it hurts to know that I won't ever know what you would've done because you aren't here. You son of a bitch. You just left me here to rot. Come back please Angel, I need you now. I'll see you soon Angel... I hope.

Dean cried himself to sleep after his long rant-like prayer, his sobs and heartbeat mingling and soothing him into a deep sleep.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10: Apologies and Bonding.

Eileen walked into the bunker and went to Sam's room to dump her stuff. All she wanted was a shower after a long trip and an extra long hunt. Maybe a cuddle with her fiancé wouldn't hurt either. As she walked into Sam's room she knew something was wrong.

Sam was sitting on the edge of his bed with his head in his hands. He didn't even look up as she came in. "Sam?" Eileen asked softly.

He looked up and a smile danced across his face but faded quickly. "My love." Sam signed and pulled Eileen into a hug.

Eileen let him get away with it for a few minutes, enjoying the closeness of the one person she misses most in her time away, but finally pulling away and making him look at her as she raised her eyebrows.

Sam sighed at the simple gesture and patted the bed next to him. Eileen happily sat down and then waited patiently for him to explain what had gotten him to look so sad.

"Dean found out that Ben is actually his child." Sam started, signing along fluently.

Eileen started to interrupt but Sam shook his head at her and she closed her mouth and gestured for him to continue.

"Ben moved in just 2 days ago, he's next door to Jack. You can meet him later, he's a really good kid. But then Dean brought up the topic of moving out and I didn't exactly come across as thrilled." Sam explained and Eileen knew enough about him to know that that meant that he and Dean had exchanged some not so pleasant words.

"What did you say now?" Eileen asked him when Sam fell silent.

He looked affronted at the suggestion that he had caused the argument but Eileen just shrugged before signing, "You always start this shit by saying something that offends him and then he attacks you and it all spirals from there."

Eileen knew she had won that round when Sam's shoulders dropped. "It was different this time." He said and then put his head in his hands again.

Eileen reached out and pulled his face up and toward hers gently, signing "how" as he looked at her.

She watched him closely as his eyes seemed to look at something that wasn't there and he explained what Dean had said and how he had reacted. Eileen flinched when he got to the part about Cas, everyone missed Cas but to hear how Dean had been struggling without telling anyone was gut wrenching at the very least.

"And then he left me but I saw him crying as he left. You know, that's only the second time I've seen him cry and the first was when he found out that Jack couldn't do anything to get Cas out of the Empty. I've never seen him cry like he did yesterday though. Just silent tears. It was awful Love, I felt so helpless." Sam told her and she could feel how tense he was.

She let go of his face and pulled him into a hug, feeling his tension drain away as she held him, rocking back and forth and she did so.

 

*********

Sam felt better once Eileen had let go of him. He hadn't known how tense he was until he let himself relax. She always had a solution to his problems and always helped him through it.

"Have you spoken to Dean since?" She signed, her head moving to lean on his shoulder, both of them watching her hands move.

"No." Sam signed back. "And it's been 2 days. I'm scared of what I will find."

"Well, start there. Make lunch for him today instead of him doing it for you and we can all eat together and I can finally meet Ben. I can even pull Ben away while you talk to him if you want me to." Was Eileen's solution to the issue at hand.

Sam smiled. "Have I told you that I love you?" he asked her, laughing when her head shook from side to side. "Well then, I better change that."

She sat up and grinned at him. "Nope, lunch first." She said. "I'm starving."

Sam nodded, standing up, pulling her up with him before facing her and grabbing her hands in his. "I'm so glad you are back, I missed you Love." He said earnestly and kissed her, their smiles messing it up slightly.

She pulled away first and he laughed as she signed "lunch first big guy."

"Yes okay. Lunch for four coming right up." Sam muttered and led the way to the kitchen. He started getting bread for the sandwiches and looked up as Eileen knocked on the counter.

"I'm going to fetch Dean. Love you." she said.

"Love you too." He said and watched her walk away, happy that she had finally come home and they could start planning the rest of their lives together. He frowned as he realised that he hasn't even asked her about her trip, making the promise to himself that he would ask her over lunch. He turned to the fridge to debate over putting cheese with the leftover chicken from last night.

********

Dean had taken a shower and was trying to decide if he should grab Ben and get out of the Bunker for the afternoon.

The past 2 days had been awful. After his argument with Sam, he had slept until the next morning but he hadn't felt rested so he had showered and him and Ben had spent the day in the Dean Cave, watching old movies, Dean making sure to avoid the ones he knew Cas had loved or would have loved.

Dean knew that Ben could tell something was wrong but he also knew that Ben would never confront him about it so they had had a peaceful 2 days of movies and rubbish tv, Dean only leaving the Dean Cave to make food for them and avoiding Sam like he had an infectious disease.

Dean wondered if Ben would let him get away with it for a third day since he was up a lot later than normal but that plan flew out the window when he heard Ben and Jack in the hallway, going to get some lunch. They had become fast friends, Ben teaching Jack all the "cool" things as he liked to call them. Jack now knew all about TikTok and Instagram and Facebook. Dean heard them discussing Twitter as they walked past and shuddered, thankful he wasn't part of that conversation.

He had just decided to go for a drive, maybe check out some houses up for sale when a knock echoed through his room. He frowned at that. Jack never knocked and Ben only knocked once before barging in anyway. Sam wouldn't be seeking him out, too scared to get an earful.

Dean cautiously opened the door and let a huge smile cross his face when it was Eileen who was standing there. He grabbed her in a hug thanking his lucky stars that she was back and could be a buffer between him and his stupid brother.

Dean pulled away from her, taking in her rumpled clothing and exhausted look in her eyes. He led her into his room, shut the door and made himself comfortable on the bed next to her. "Rough couple of days?" he asked, making sure she saw him talking. Sign language wasn't something he knew a lot of and he wasn't proud of it.

She gave him a half-hearted smile along with a nod. "I heard you also had a horrible past few days." She pointed out, signing along like she always did. It was supposed to help him learn quicker but it just made him feel worse about not seriously learning while she was away.

"When do I ever not?" he asked her and watched as she scowled at his attitude. "Thanks for coming to say hi though. I'm not sure if I would've seen you today if you hadn't." He continued.

She hesitated and Dean knew that he wouldn't like whatever she said next. He was proven right. "Come have lunch with us?" She asked. "Sam's making sandwiches and I want to meet Ben."

Dean wanted to shake his head, refuse to go anywhere near his brother after his embarrassing breakdown. He wanted to crawl back into bed and forget about existing altogether. He was just about to refuse her offer when he saw the hope written across her face. He sighed before giving her a simple nod.

She clapped her hands happily before grabbing his arm and practically dragging him to the kitchen.

Once introductions had been made, Ben surprising Dean by showcasing that he knew rudimentary ASL and making Dean feel even worse about his own skills, they all sat down at the map table to eat the lunch Sam had provided.

It wasn't a quiet meal at all. Ben, Jack and Eileen catching up and Eileen filling Ben in on anything her and Jack said that didn't make sense to him. Sam, however, ate his lunch quietly and watched the three of them talk and sign away excitedly. Dean watched his family with a smile, happy that they all got along well enough to be joking around with each other.

He brought his beer to his lips and caught Sam's eye across the table. Sam raised his eyebrows and Dean rolled his eyes but nodded, tilting his head to the kitchen. The two of them got up, collected plates and glasses and then relocated to the kitchen where Dean immediately started doing the dishes.

He waited while Sam refilled drinks for the others and then watched as he silently joined Dean at the sink, drying the few dishes that were there. They worked in silence until everything was finished and the kitchen was clean, just how Dean liked it.

"So..." Sam said awkwardly, leaning back on the counter.

Dean sat down at the table and knocked back the last of his beer. "So." He said blandly.

"I'm sorry okay. I didn't realise that it hurt you this much to be here." Sam started, gesturing to the room in general.

Dean pulled a face. "This conversation is starting to hurt dude." He said and watched in glee as Sam pulled his infamous bitchface, the one that told Dean that Sam wasn't up for his shit.

"I meant all the memories. I didn't realise that those hurt you, you never let it show but I get it now. I'll even help you with a list of houses that I think will suit you guys best. If you want my help that is?" Sam said, his earnest face making Dean give in to the conversation.

"Yeah Sammy, of course I want your help." Dean said before scratching his chin awkwardly. "I didn't mean to dump all that shit on you."

Sam shook his head. "I'm glad you did. Even though it was you crying that made me realise how much it hurt you." He reassured Dean. "It made me understand why a move would be good for you. Just promise that if it's too lonely, you'll tell me or Eileen and we can help you."

"I can't believe you saw me cry. I never wanted you to see that." Dean said and dragged a hand over his face. "But sure, I promise."

"I only saw you cry once before and that was when Jack told us that he couldn't get Cas back. It was scary to see it then and it was scary to see it now but Dean, I'm glad I saw it. Now I know how much it hurt and can help you properly. Although I don't think taking on another child is the way to go." Sam said, murmuring the last bit quietly to himself but not quietly enough.

Dean decided to gloss over the last part, not wanting to start another fight. "I don't like you seeing me cry, I'm supposed to be strong." He said and waved off Sam's noise of protest.

"Are we going to talk about the fact that you finally admitted that Cas said he loves you or?" Sam asked hesitantly.

Dean's face grew pale. "I didn't say anything like that." He said and Sam just sighed but let it go.

Dean opened his mouth to say something else to distract Sam but he caught sight of Eileen peeking into the kitchen before vanishing again with a small smile on her face. He heard laughter work it's way into the kitchen and smiled at the sound.

"What?" Sam asked, jaring Dean out of his thoughts, making Dean search his brain for something to say and making him admit one of the last things he ever wanted to say out loud.

"I guess I'm jealous." Dean said, his voice small. "You have Eileen and you'll have her forever. I can't help but wish that I had someone."

Sam looked troubled at his admission, knowing he could've had Cas, even just as a best friend, and knowing that's what Dean was thinking but admitting it was the last thing either of them would do right then. "We can tone it down if you need us to? I didn't mean to rub it in your face, I'm sorry dude." He said.

Dean felt awful as soon as Sam started his sentence. "No no. Don't do that. I'm just being dumb. Please, don't stop on my account. I'll be out of your hair soon anyway so please, just be normal okay." He hurried to ease his brother's troubled state of mind, not wanting Sam to catch onto just how dark his thoughts sometimes were and how much he wished Cas was here so he could have another adult to talk to that wasn't his brother or banging his brother.

There was silence for a few moments before Sam opened his arms. "Hug it out?"

Dean wanted to refuse but couldn't deny Sam the reassurance he knew Sam needed after their fight so he sighed loudly but got up and shuffled over and they hugged it out.

"Okay now I'm going to fix up Baby, she needs an oil change. Let the rest know where I am if they need me okay. " Dean said once he had deemed the hug long enough, stepping back and giving Sam a curt nod.

Sam grinned at his brother. "Okay, have fun."

Dean hurried to the garage, breathing in a sigh of relief as he got into Baby and grabbing her steering wheel to ground himself. He knew it was good that he and Sam had spoken about their fight but he couldn't help but wonder if it would have been easier to move out if they had still been avoiding each other. He wished he had someone to discuss it with, someone who could give him advice but he didn't so he took a deep breath and lay down on Baby's benchseat, closing his eyes and pushing every memory of all the drives he took with Cas out of his head, simply wanting to dwell in the moment. Unsurprisingly he caught himself reminiscing what he called the 'good old days' even though they weren't that good.

Do you remember that time we wore cowboy hats to blend in and you spoke like you were in Tombstone until I told you to cut it out. God that was a great day in the middle of a shit show. We spent a lot of time in this car. Like the time you came with when I went to get groceries and it took ages since you had to examine each brand for differences. Or the time I fought with Sam about something and you suggested I drove it off so I dragged you three towns away before letting you drive back so that I could nap. I miss those days Angel. It was so simple even though we were always fighting someone or something. We all had a purpose and knew what we had to do. That's what I find hardest now, there isn't a greater purpose to each day. It's all just the same old shit. I know you wouldn't agree, you would tell me that life is it's greatest purpose all on its own but you liked to think like that Angel, I don't. Maybe this house searching will make me feel better. I wish you were here so that you could help me with these two children I found myself with all of a sudden... they may look all big and grown up but I caught them giggling over that stupid naked fairy book again and then building the Lego Death Star just a few days ago, before I argued with Sam. Oh me and him patched shit up by the way. Didn't tell him though that I wish you were here so that I- nope don't go there Dean, just no. Anyway Angel, I actually have shit to do, can't stay here all day talking to you. I'll see you soon Angel, I guess.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11: Contentions and Complications.

Jack materialised outside the front door of the bunker. It felt like a momentous occasion and one that didn't need him just appearing in the kitchen of the bunker. He thought for a few minutes before disappearing and then reappearing just inside the bunker. It felt like a good compromise and he didn't want anyone to know he was inside just yet.

He descended the stairs slowly and walked into the kitchen where voices could be heard light-heartedly arguing about the merits of veggie bacon and if it should be a substitute for proper bacon.

"That's why it's better for you than real bacon." Ben was saying as Jack entered the kitchen.

Jack watched as Sam reached across the table to high five Ben. "Dean, your kid is smart." Sam said with a smirk.

Dean turned away from the stove and pointed the spatula he was using for the eggs at Ben. "You watch how you use that brain of yours Ben. Too many facts like that will spoil it, make it go mushy like that green stuff my brother drinks." He said, raised his eyes from Ben, saw Jack and then his face brightened into a grin.

Jack smiled back in answer. "Hello." He said with a wave.

"Grab a seat and a plate. Breakfast is ready in 2 minutes." Dean said and Jack found himself seated next to Ben, ready with his favourite blue plate.

There was silence for a moment as they all dished up and dug in. Surprisingly, Ben broke the silence first. "Wow! This is the best breakfast ever." he said.

Jack grinned and nudged Ben with his elbow. "You need to try his pancakes. Dad's pancakes are the best!" he said with a conspiratorial wink.

Ben laughed while Eileen cleared her throat. Jack turned to her, his smile still fixed on his face.

"How's heaven?" She signed, mouth full of food.

Jack felt his smile grow bigger as everyone turned to look at him. "I have brilliant news about that actually." He started, setting down his knife and fork so that he could sign along. "Heaven is now able to run itself without my needing to be there at all. I'm free to stay here from now on." Jack announced, his cheeks starting to hurt from how broad his grin was.

There was silence for not even two seconds before Sam threw his hands up to cheer and Dean rushed around the table to pull Jack into a hug, cheering louder than his brother.

Miracle rushed into the kitchen barking at the top of his lungs and Eileen started laughing at Ben's face as choas ensued.

Once everyone had calmed down some, Dean cleared his throat, stood up from the table and raised his glass of orange juice. "To us all finally being a family, a proper one." He said and Jack pretended he didn't hear the small catch in Dean's voice on the word "all". He raised his glass of juice with everyone and echoed the toasting going around, just as Castiel had showed him once.

Dean snorted. "Don't be so formal Jack. It's just a toast, 'cheers' is fine. You remind me of C-." Dean abruptly cut himself off, smile fading a little before carrying on. "Anyway, you don't have to be so proper now. You're free to be Jack."

Jack smiled and they all finished breakfast in a slightly happier way than when they had started.

 

Once they had all helped Dean clear the kitchen and do dishes, they sat down at the map table. "Plans for the day?" Dean asked, fidgeting in his seat.

"I might have found a case up in Nevada. I think it could be a haunting. Eileen and I might have to dig a little. Do you want to come?" Sam offered.

Jack watched in fascination as Dean quickly shook his head before turning to Ben and himself. Jack sat up straighter at the serious gleam to Dean's eye.

"I've been looking and I seem to have a passable list so far. Would you guys like to come look at houses with me?" Dean asked and Jack wasn't sure why he appeared to be nervous.

"Of course. Can we get ice cream too?" Jack asked, relieved that Dean's nervousness faded somewhat at his answer.

"You want us to come with? Why?" Ben piped up.

Jack frowned. Ben sounded confused but Jack thought it was obvious. Dean wanted company.

"I thought that since you guys were also going to be loving there, you might want some input into where we actually live." Came the explanation and Jack was surprised at the fact that Dean thought he would be a terrible father when this whole sentiment proved otherwise.

"Definitely! When do we leave?" Ben's excited response pulled Jack out of his musings and back into the conversation.

"10 minutes." Dean said and Jack joined Ben in giving Dean a quick hug before sprinting after Ben, yelling about how he wanted to use the bathroom first.

********

Ben was excited as they pulled up outside the first house. He had always wanted to go house hunting.

He gazed at it eagerly from the back seat of the Impala. Both him and Jack had fought about the front only for Dean to relegate both boys to the back so that there was "nothing to fight about".

The house itself wasn't impressive. It was painted a nice white colour and it had a black roof. What caught Ben's attention was the front yard which was quite large and had a huge tree right in the middle.

"Okay. This house apparently has a swimming pool, 3 car garage and a back porch. It has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms." Dean said and Ben looked away from the house to see him reading off of a sheet of paper from the stack next to him on the seat.

"Can we go in Dad?" Jack asked and Ben waited for Dean's nod before flinging the door opening and hurriedly getting out.

Ben knew that it shouldn't bother him that Jack called Dean Dad, especially since Dean had mentioned it to him before Ben moved in. It just bothered Ben that Jack was so comfortable with calling someone he had only known for a handful of years something so special whereas Ben himself battled to call Dean Dean when all he wanted to do was also call him Dad, the memories of the year and a bit that they had spent together made Ben wish for simpler times. Also, being around Dean so often, for these weeks made Ben love him but also hate him for the life he built without Ben.

He shook the thoughts away and followed the other two into the first house. The thing that struck him as they walked through the house was that nothing stood out about it. There wasn't a huge den or huge kitchen. It was all very ordinary. He said as much to Dean while Jack was looking to see if the backyard held any secrets.

Dean looked at him affectionately. "I know what you mean Ben. There's nothing about this place that screamed Buy Me to me either." He said and turned away.

Ben scrunched up his nose. "That's not what I meant but whatever." Ben thought, wishing that Dean had understood how he felt.

The next house was much the same except it had 3 bathrooms, one attached to each bedroom.

"Now this is something I can get used to." Ben commented as he opened what would be his own private bathroom. "No more sharing with you, you hot water hog." He said to Jack and Jack laughed.

Dean shrugged. "I guess it's a pretty good deal." He said. "Let's keep looking?" He suggested and left the room, closely followed by Jack.

Ben sighed in disappointment. "Again, not quite what I meant. I didn't want it but whatever." He thought as they drove off.

The next house they didn't even go into. When they pulled up outside, the exterior had been painted a bright purple which did not match the picture online and the front door was orange.

For once nobody said anything as Dean simply turned Baby back on and they drove off again.

The next few houses were all a bust. The one advertised 3 bedrooms but when they looked, they found that 2 of them could hardly even be used as office space let alone bedrooms. Another advertised a "close community" but they discovered that that was because all the houses, except three of the smallest ones, were being torn down to build a supermarket.

They stopped for lunch and Ben pricked his ears at Jack's comment that they should look for a 4 bedroom house just in case. The way Dean inhaled slowly and looked back at his food suggested a painful backstory but he wordlessly went along with them.

Another 3 houses later, they were all starting to tire. "Okay last one for the day." Dean said and pulled up outside a charming house, on the outskirts of town. "It's 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, swimming pool, finished basement and it sits on a corner lot which means more space." Dean said with a tired smile as they all piled out of the car for what seemed like the hundredth time that day.

Again, also for what seemed like the hundredth time, Dean and Jack fell into step ahead of Ben who found himself trailing them, picking up pieces of their conversation about what they expect.

Ben was silent as they explored the house. He liked it. It was cosy enough without being too crowded and it was away from the centre of town. It also needed a lot of work before it could be lived in. The pool and basement were the only parts of the place that seemed up to standard. Ben loved it anyway, he loved imagining how it would look when it was done. He wondered if Dean would let him help with the renovations.

Ben heard someone walk up beside him. "Just think," Dean started, "summer days by the pool. Sammy and Eileen and their kids running around. You back from collage with your girlfriend on your arm and Jack swimming in that pool. It's the dream." Dean muttered dreamily. "Don't you want this?"

Ben felt that tight thread inside him that had been winding tighter all day finally snap. "That's what you think I want. I don't give a flying fuck about collage and girlfriends. I want to try my hand at hunting properly. I don't want the fucking bigger bedroom. I don't care if I have to have the smallest room because Jack chose already. And I sure as shit don't care about if your dumb car will fit through the garage door. But you and Jack are so busy with each other that you don't even know what I want." Ben yelled and Jack came running from upstairs and he saw Dean look at him, hurt surprise etched into the lines on his face.

********
Dean looked at his son in surprise. Jack came running up to them. "Is something wrong?" he asked.

Ben answered before Dean could even blink. "No. Everything is just peachy. You get your dumb pool and dumb backyard while I have to smile and pretend like I'm fine with it."

Jack s face crumpled and Dean finally knew what to say. "Don't speak to Jack like that. If you have a problem you talk to me about it like grown ups. You do not throw your toys out of the cot because you are tired of looking at houses. Now apologise to Jack." Dean said sternly.

"And if I don't? What are you going to do? Ground me?" Ben taunted him.

"Jack go get in the car." Dean said to Jack, heart going out to him at the utter confusion on his face as he left them to get into Baby.

Dean turned back to Ben. "When have you ever been allowed to speak to me like that? I won't let you do it." Dean said, trying to keep the lid on his anger.

"You haven't been my dad in ages. Please, don't start now." Ben said with a cruel smirk.

Dean swallowed the pain that rose up in his chest. "Look Ben, if you aren't happy with this house, I'm sure we can find another one that you love as well. Maybe one with less work?" He suggested.

Ben sneered. "Maybe if you actually took an interest in what I want and what I like, you would realise that I prefer this house to any other house so far. But I forgot, you don't know me at all since you weren't fucking there for me in years. Take your suggestions and shove them where the sun doesn't shine for all I care." Ben said angrily.

Dean watched him start walking away before finding his voice. "Do not walk away from me Benjamin." He warned.

Ben simply flipped him the bird, not even turning around before saying, "You aren't even my dad yet, not in the ways that matter anyway, so stop trying to hard to be one."

Dean's heart broke as he watched Ben slam his way out of the house. He sighed and closed his eyes, needing some peace before facing the car ride home.

God Cas, where did I go wrong? I lost him somewhere but I don't know where. I've been trying to catch up with him and we did the whole day bonding thing so what else does he want from me? I wish you were here... again. I say that a lot but I'm only now realising how much I asked of you and how much I needed your opinion to help me make choices and decisions in life. You would've handled this brilliantly. You would've known exactly what everyone wanted and needed before doing this whole tour thing. I'm such an idiot. I've spent so much time focusing on Ben adjusting to the bunker, I forgot to focus on Ben. You would never have done that. I miss you so much. Wish me luck with this stupid car ride home now. See you soon Angel.

Dean isn't sure how long he stays in that one place but it's long enough that when he moves, his joints ache a little from being so straight and locked for so long. He sighs and starts to make his way to Baby, not looking forward to the awful car drive home with a sulking teenager and a curious adult toddler in the back. Maybe some Bon Jovi will do them all good.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12-Understanding Dean Winchester

The silence in the bunker for the next 3 days unsettled Sam. He doesn't know what went wrong on Dean's house trip with his two sons but something must have gone extremely wrong since Dean was back to silently going about doing odd jobs in the bunker and researching for any hunters who needed help while Jack was doing his best to stick around Sam all the time and Ben had yet to come out of his room for anything besides meals and the bathroom.

Sam woke up one Thursday and decided he had had enough. He wrote a note to the still sleeping Eileen and quickly got ready for the day. He made his way to the kitchen, looking at his phone and realising that it wasn't even 7am yet.

Dean only made breakfast at 8 every morning since he had started sleeping in a little more. Sam quickly made two travel mugs full of coffee and two breakfast buns and put the food into a bag. He got a duffel bag and packed three spare sets of clothing and a few toiletries before heading to Jack's room.

He knocked on the door and then opened it, poking his head in. Jack was watching tv, since he didn't really need much sleep, and he looked up at Sam.

"Put some clothes on," Sam started, looking over Jack's pineapple themed pyjamas with a smile, "and grab a duffel with some extra clothes. Meet me at my car in 10 minutes. Don't forget your toothbrush or Dean will kill me." He said and then left Jack to get sorted.

He grabbed his bag, the bag with food in and the coffee cups along with his car keys before making his way to the garage.

He was only just getting settled in his car when the door of the garage flew open and Jack came skipping to the car, duffel in hand.

"Where are we going?" Jack asked eagerly, getting into the car and turning to put his duffel in the backseat next to Sam's.

Sam waited for him to get sorted and fasten his safety belt before opening the door of the garage and starting the car. "We are going on a Sam-and-Jack roadtrip. We will drive until we run out of clothing and then we will wash our clothes and head back here." Sam explained, flooring the gas as the car hit the open road.

Jack wiggled in his seat. "Thank you Sam. The bunker was a bit uncomfortable right now." Jack said.

"Understatement of the century." Sam muttered and handed Jack his coffee and breakfast, taking a sip of his own coffee with a small sigh of happiness. "Coffee and the open road. Only thing that could make this better is music, what do you feel like Jack?"

Jack clapped his hands before connecting his phone to the Bluetooth in the car and selecting a song on his phone. Sam laughed at his apparent excitement at getting to choose the music, letting the smooth voice of Ed Sheeran wash over him as the miles passed by.

*********
It was quiet when Eileen finally woke up to a note from Sam to say that him and Jack had gone on a road trip for a few days and not to worry, he will call her later.

She was glad that he had taken Jack out of the bunker. Dean wasn't going to and Ben was currently ignoring Jack, why Eileen didn't know.

She puttered around the room, getting ready and cleaning up a little since Sam seemed to leave a mess wherever he went. She then joined Dean amd Ben for a very quiet breakfast and settled down to read a book in the library afterwards.

She hadn't even finished a chapter before a tap on her arm made her jump. Her head flew up so fast, it made her neck complain. She rubbed her neck, closed her book and eyed Ben curiously.

"Sorry." He said, slowly.

She smiled at him. "It's fine. Just wasn't expecting it." She reassured him. "Did you want something? I can drive you anywhere you need to go?" She offered.

Ben shook his head slowly. "Can I ask you something?"

She nodded, waiting.

"Well, more like tell." He adjusted and then explained what had happened during their house hunting. "I snapped at him. He seemed to have his life figured out but didn't actually know what I wanted." Ben said with a sad smile.

Eileen waited to see if he would offer anything else but Ben was silent. "You didn't tell him what you wanted?" She asked, thoroughly confused. She was under the impression that Dean had worked out a list of everyone's wishes and had gotten a bunch of houses for them all to go see. Clearly she was mistaken.

"No, he never asked me. He was always with Jack. Always explaining something to Jack, like why there is a garbage chute in the living room or he was always telling Jack what would look nice in the room if they brought it from the bunker. He also mentioned that he wanted me to go to collage and bring home a girlfriend. I don't want to go to collage, I'm sick of school." Ben ranted.

Eileen blinked and concentrated to get the whole rant since Ben wasn't signing along. "I think," she tried to explain once he had calmed down a bit, "that Dean is much more comfortable around Jack than he is around you." She held up her hand, stopping any arguments.

"Remember Ben, Jack has been around for a lot longer than you have and that has helped Dean form a bond with him. They literally saved the world together a few times. Also, Dean probably feels guilty about your memories coming back after he had them erased and then on top of that, he feels guilty about you having to change schools so that you can live with him here but still finish your education." Eileen tried to do Dean some justice but couldn't quite manage it.

Ben pulled a face. "I get the Jack part, that's why I know I'm just being silly and jealous but the rest of it makes no sense. Why would he feel guilty about all that when he did it to protect me? And the school thing is fine, I'm starting my new school in a week and I'm actually really happy to leave my old school behind, my friend left a year ago and it's an awful school anyway." Ben said with all the attitude a teenage boy could muster.

Eileen had to stop herself from rolling her eyes at his attitude. "Ben, look at me and listen. Dean feels more guilty about the fact that he had to erase your memories because of the bad things that happened to you not just the fact that he had to erase your memories. He's trying to bond with you but it's hard enough reconnecting with family after a while, let alone family who you ditched, almost got killed and then erased yourself from their memories. He is going to naturally cling to Jack because he made a promise to Castiel that he would take care of Jack and now you show up and Dean doesn't want to not take care of Jack in case he lets Castiel down. He is doing his best as refusing to actually hunt or drink, which are his usual coping mechanisms, so he is doing remarkably well. As for the collage thing, he is projecting. He never went to collage and Sam dropped out because Dean dragged him back into the hunting life so he wants you to go to collage and do what he never could." Eileen makes sure that Ben is looking at her throughout her long, impassioned speech.

Even she is surprised at how much she apparently cares for Dean.

Ben gives her a quick hug before pulling away again. "I'll talk to him, I promise. Maybe we can finally discuss what I want." He says and she returns his smile, her heart lighter.

"That's good Ben. Remember, his bark is worse than his bite. Don't give up, he will eventually talk to you." She jokes and they laugh a little at Dean's expense.

Ben suddenly looks at her curiously. "You mentioned someone called Castiel? Who is that?" He asks her.

Eileen doesn't want to be rude and not reply but she feels like it isn't her place to blurt out Castiel's life story when Dean isn't here to correct her. "He was Dean's best friend." She finally settles for. "He died a few years ago now."

Ben's eyes go wide. "Oh no! That's awful. No wonder he doesn't mention him then." Ben says and they are silent for a few moments before he opens his mouth and then shakes his head and closes it. A few more minutes tick by before he decides to speak again. "Can I ask you a personal question?" He asks.

Eileen nods and steels herself.

"Where did you go? Sam said you had gone to Ireland when I first got here. So why did you go there?" He asks and Eileen sighs in relief that it wasn't about Castiel.

"I was born there. My mom and dad died when I was a baby, a banshee got them. That's how I met Sam and Dean. We were all hunting the same banshee and we met in the middle. Anyway, I got a message from a family member saying that they were my cousin and they wanted to meet up. I went to see them only to realise that it was a ghoul that had gotten into my cousin's grave and was only pretending it was her." Eileen said and then grinned as Ben's look of utter confusion.

"A ghoul is a monster that eats dead human flesh. If it eats that human's flesh, it then takes on their form. I had to kill it to get rid of it. Wasn't so bad." She explains before carrying on with her story. "After I killed it, I finally cleaned out my aunt's house, she died a year ago, and let the estate agent put it up for sale."

Ben nodded in awe or in shock, Eileen wasn't sure which. They exchanged a few more war stories before Ben left to go talk to Dean and Eileen finally got to read her book. She made sure to quickly send Dean a message letting him know that Ben was a great kid.

*********
"Sam," Jack said in the car the next day, waiting for Sam to hum in recognition, "does Dean love me?"

Jack watched as Sam spluttered and coughed. "Wait seriously?" Sam asked, turning to shoot Jack a quick, concerned glance.

Jack nodded. "Yes. He's been ignoring me for a few days and I'm worried that he has stopped loving me. Do you think I said something mean to him?" He asked.

Jack waited while Sam frowned and they sat in silence for a few more miles. "Did you say anything that would make him stop loving you?" Sam finally asked.

Jack turned away from the window where he had been looking out into the trees on the side of the road. "Well no. We were having a good time and then Ben said something to him about not knowing what Ben wanted and Dean told me to go wait in the car. I didn't touch anything in the car but he hasn't spoken to me since unless it's to tell me that food is ready and I must eat."

Sam pulled over onto the side of the road, killing the engine and turning to Jack. "No Jack, you did nothing. Ben said some things to Dean that Dean probably didn't like, I don't know what exactly, Dean hasn't told me. But Dean is now trying to figure out what to do for Ben in return and he is avoiding you because I can only imagine that he feels guilty for having spent so much time with you and Ben lately instead of just with Ben." Sam said.

Jack nodded slowly. "It's hard for him with us both being grown up?" he asked.

Sam nodded. "Yeah, he wishes he was there for both of you individually, when Ben was growing up and when you were trying to prove how good you were but he didn't believe you." He said and Jack could hear the sincerity in his voice. "It also doesn't help that Ben didn't remember him until a few months ago and every time you do or say something weird, Dean is reminded of Cas."

"He misses Cas a lot?" Jack questions.

"All the time I think. Don't you?" Sam seemed sad.

"Yes I miss Cas but I have Dean and I always talk to Dean if I'm missing Cas too much. But Dean never talks to me about how he feels. He doesn't show it. Not with me. Maybe if he showed it, I could help him. Maybe then we could be okay again." Jack said, happy to have found a solution.

Sam put a halt on his plans when he shook his head. "You can't fix it that easy Jack. Dean won't show it because he knows that we all miss Cas too and he thinks that he must be strong. That's why he also hasn't spent time with Ben. He's feeling too guilty about erasing his memories of this life so he avoids the heartfelt conversations that must be had. He does the same with you. It's much easier to pretend to be fine if you don't put yourself in a situation where you might not be fine." Sam says to Jack, patient in his explanations.

Jack nods. "If I was born a baby, would it have been easier?" He asks Sam.

Sam frowns before nodding. "I think so. I don't think Dean would have been as worried about what you might do to his family on purpose. He probably would've been worried about what you accidentally did instead. He does seem to have a soft spot for babies though so it could've worked out. And when Ben had come along, it would've been easier. He could've split his time better. Had child time with you and adult talks with Ben whereas now he's just clinging onto you and the safety of what you are giving him."

Jack smiles, happy to have eased his mind and have a better idea of how Dean thinks. "Let's carry on then. I have a good idea of what I want for lunch today."

*******
Sam and Jack had a peaceful lunch before Dean phoned them with a simple salt and burn case that was about half an hour away.

They worked efficiently and had it all wrapped up just after the sun had set.

They were at a motel an hour away when Jack sprung the news on Sam. Sam had just gotten out of the shower and was trying to find a movie for them to watch.

"Sam. I need to to tell you something."

Sam sighed at the serious note in Jack's voice, wishing their emotional conversations could be over for one trip. "Yeah Jack, anything." He said and sat down on his bed, turning to face Jack.

Jack looked nervous. "I can rescue Castiel." He said and Sam's mouth dropped open.

"Since when? I thought you couldn't interfere with The Empty no matter how powerful you were! Why didn't you say so sooner?" Sam knew he shouldn't overwhelm the kid but he couldn't help himself.

"Rowena helped me a bit over the last month and I've spoken to the Empty about a deal. It would require a lot from me though and I wouldn't know if Castiel did escape." Jack said with a small smile. "I was going to look for another way but after what you said about Dean missing Castiel so much yesterday, I don't want to wait any longer."

"What deal did you make Jack?" Sam said, dread flooding his veins.

"The Empty promised to give me an exact location on Castiel and promised to wake him up so that he can leave. What I needed to do was then open a rift basically for 2 minutes which will give him time to jump out. She made me promise to then forever seal any access to The Empty to anybody who wasn't a dead angel. She also said that she would only release Castiel, not his grace. He would be human." Jack said.

Sam didn't understand. It didn't seem extremely dangerous. "Why did you need Rowena? Why haven't you done it? The deal seems solid." He asked.

"I would need to use a spell for the sealing off of The Empty and the spell requires a lot more of my grace than I would like. But Rowena said it would work so I was only hesitating since heaven needed me and I didn't want to leave you all without an angel to heal you. I also wasn't sure if Castiel wanted to be human." Jack explained and then sat down on his own bed. "Do you think I should do it?" He asked Sam.

Sam closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. "I can't tell you what to do Jack. I can only tell you how much it would mean to Dean to finally have Cas back, angel or not. Also, won't your grace replenish itself?" Sam asked, not wanting to make Jack sacrifice his grace immediately but also wondering why he had hesitated if his grace would come back.

"I know that now, I didn't know before how much Dean missed Castiel." Jack said with a small frown before brightening up again. "Also yes, my grace would replenish itself, just very slowly. Are you sure you will manage until I get enough grace back to start helping you again?" Jack asked.

Sam nodded with a small laugh. "We managed for a long time without any angels to heal us, we can manage a few years without your grace. We would still have you." He said.

Jack smiled at him and they settled back to watch the movie, Sam happy to hear that Cas will be back and Jack nervously turning his plan over in his head, ironing out a few wrinkles. Sam didn't know that that wasn't the whole plan and didn't notice that Jack stayed up all night, or he would've known something was up.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13: And So It Begins.

Jack took one last look at Sam who was sprawled across the bed, snoring like his life depended on it. He smiled to himself, hoping Sam wouldn't take it too harshly that Jack didn't confess everything to him.

*****
Ben took a deep breath and knocked on the door of the Dean Cave. He knew Dean was in there, he could hear the tv blaring the theme song for Dean's favourite movie. He waited a few seconds and then opened the door and stuck his head into the room.

"Dean? Can I talk to you?" Ben asked quietly and held his breath while the movie played for a few minutes.

Dean finally sat up, paused the movie and then turned to Ben with a nod. "Yeah Ben, let's talk." He said, very reluctantly and Ben began to wonder if seeking Dean out was a good idea.

He still went to sit next to Dean on the couch with a firm nod and opened his mouth to start the difficult conversation that they needed to have.

*****
Jack took a deep breath and added the last ingredient for the spell. He muttered the first few words that Rowena had given him before reaching out and grabbing the special syringe that Rowena had brought for him. She didn't even know the whole plan but Jack didn't want anybody to try to convince him to stop.

Jack steeled his nerves and then carefully inserted the syringe deep into his own neck, slowly drawing the plunger back and extracting some of his grace. Rowena had suggested slicing his throat open but since Jack wanted to do it alone, this was the safer option.

*****

Dean hated how nervously Ben muttered his reason for wanting to talk. Dean wasn't an idiot, he knew him and Ben needed to have this conversation. He just didn't know why the kid was so nervous. As far as Dean knew, he didn't bite.

"I just need to say this before you say anything okay Dean? I need to get this out or I'm going to never talk about it again." Ben said, this time his eyes fixing onto Dean's determinedly.

Dean shifted in his seat, uncomfortable with the eye contact but nodded anyway, signifying to Ben to go on.

"You always being with Jack made me feel left out, unwanted, forgotten and invalidated. I mean, it's all pretty much the same thing I guess. You were so busy with Jack, you forgot me and I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that it's fine because the truth is is that I was extremely jealous of your close relationship with Jack." Ben rushed, almost in one breath.

He held up his hand when Dean went to argue. "Just listen." He said before continuing. "You made such a big deal about me joining the family and getting my own room and making sure that I'm always included in conversations that you forgot to include me in your life. I also want to go out for a drive randomly one day and I also want to go get groceries with you instead of just giving you my list and you taking Jack. I know that it's not the same but please Dean, all I'm asking for is a chance, just one, to be treated like your actual son and not just a friend."

Dean was gobsmacked at Ben's troubled tone but saddened by the fact that in trying to do the right thing and include Ben, he had, in actual fact, excluded him so badly that Ben had had to finally snap at him to get him to listen.

"Ben-" Dean started, knowing in his heart that this was make or break for their relationship.

*****

Jack took the syringe out of his neck after counting to 10 slowly and injected the grace into the bowl. A golden light illuminated the room as Jack rattled off the words he had memoried. Once the bowl had stopped glowing, Jack peered into it carefully. All that was left was his grace weaving it's way inbetween the grooves of the bowl. But it also wasn't his original grace. This grace now had a slight purple tinge to it that meant that the spell had worked.

He smiled and sucked the grace back out of the bowl and into the syringe, inserted it into his neck with a grimace and injected his improved grace back into himself. It stung so badly, Jack almost dripped the syringe. He barely held on and cried out softly as the grace worked it's way around his body, changing his original grace as it did so.

*****
Ben frowned at the amount of guilt and self-loathing one word managed to hold. He hadn't know that Dean would take it this hard.

"Ben," Dean started again, "I never meant for you to feel like that. I never wanted you to feel like a visitor. I wanted you to be part of the family but I'll admit that I didn't try to get to know you better than the little boy I knew a long time ago." Even Ben could hear the nostalgia mixed with the guilt in Dean's voice and it hurt him to see Dean like that.

Ben shook his head, suddenly not sure he wanted to hear this. "You don't have to say anything Dean." He tried to stop Dean from saying something that was clearly hurting him to get out.

"No. I need to." Was what Dean countered with before he gave Ben a small pat on the shoulder and then folded his arms tightly against his chest. "I didn't want to get close to you Ben because the last time I did, I had to leave you and your mom behind and I don't want to have to do that again. It took me so long to be able to just cope again after that day in the hospital where your memories got wiped away. I just didn't want to have to go through it again this time when it all fell apart." Ben was shocked to see a tear falling as Dean explained. He had never seen Dean cry and it was jarring to say the least.

*****

He quickly put all the evidence of his spell as well as the syringe back into the bowl and snapped his fingers, the bowl going back to Rowena in hell where she could dispose of the evidence.

He straightened and dug in his pocket for the note he had left Sam explaining what he had done. He pulled the note out and left it on top of Sam's duffel bag where he would notice it first thing.

He then gave Sam's shoulder one last squeeze before laying on his own bed and closing his eyes.

*****
"Dean, you don't have to say anything else. I can't imagine how hard that must have been for you." Ben said and tried to hug Dean.

Dean shook him off and wiped his tear away, steeling himself for the truth he was about to admit to both Ben and himself. "But Ben, as much as I like the safety net that Jack has given me, it's no way to live life. I can't expect you to live here if I'm not going to listen to you and respect your opinions. I also need to accept that the past is the past but with Chuck out of the picture and me not actively hunting anymore, the chances of history repeating itself is slim. I refuse to ignore you in order to hold onto a piece of myself that died a long time ago. I refuse to let fear win, it's not fair for you to pay for something I did a long time ago. From now on, no more holding back okay. Give me a little time and you'll see, I can be better at this father thing." Dean said, starting out sad but becoming more determined and sure of himself as he went along.

Ben smiled and this time, Dean let himself be hugged by his son. "You don't need to prove anything to me, Jack is proof that you can raise anything that comes your way and Sam is living proof of how good of a father you are Dean. And I promise to try and not get mad when I'm jealous that Jack calls you Dad. We both know that neither of us are ready for that step yet. If you try, then I will also try. I will try to be better at communicating that I'm feeling left out or alone instead of shutting myself away and then taking it out on you at the wrong time." Ben said and Dean nodded.

"Okay kid. Let's try this father-son thing again then." Dean said with a smile. "Since that's my chick-flick moment for the century, what did you honestly think of that last house? I saw something that made me think you liked it or was I completely wrong again?" Dean asked lightheartedly and then sat back with a satisfied grin as Ben started reeling off what he liked about the house and what they could do to make it the best house ever, silently deciding to put an offer that evening after supper.

*****
The idea of the spell had been to strengthen his grace so that he would be able to open a rift into the Empty and wake Cas up if the Empty didn't do it like it had said it would. Then Cas would be free to jump through the rift and be safe again, with the added benefit of not ever returning there since he would be human.

Rowena knew this part of the plan and had helped Jack. What she didn't know was that this would be the last act of any God in this world. Jack was planning on using his strengthened grace to dissipate whatever was left over of his godly power, after rescuing Cas, into the world so that he wouldn't be tempted to make the same egotistical mistakes God had made. This would also result in nobody else ever being able to be God again.

However, this came with one slight complication. Jack wasn't sure where the rift would open up to spit Cas out as his grace would start dissipating the moment Cas was awake and so the rift could either stay in the motel room with him and Sam (which was what Jack was hoping would happen), or it could go wondering wherever his grace took it so Cas could end up being all alone in Zambia or someplace equally as foreign to him which scared Jack since Cas would be human and all alone.

He had to have faith however that Cas would end up either here or back at the bunker and everything would work out perfectly. Jack also had another part to this plan. He was planning on de-ageing himself back to a baby so that his nephilism couldn't be used against anybody. He also wanted the chance to experience his childhood so he had decided to become what he should've been all along, a child. It should also work with his strengthened grace so he closed his eyes and allowed the process to begin.

********
Sam woke with a start at the golden flash of light. He sat up in bed and blinked sleep out of his eyes. Almost immediately his phone rang. He grabbed it and answered quickly so that it wouldn't wake Jack up. "Hello?"

"Sam. Oh thank god. Did you see the light?" came Dean's voice from the other end.

Sam rubbed his eyes and quietly left the room. "Yeah Dean. It woke me up but before you ask, no, we didn't make it happen." He said, leaning on the wall outside the room.

Dean hummed thoughtfully in his ear. "Okay," he said and Sam knew that his brother had a game plan, "You two come back to the bunker and we will start looking into it. It must have been something to do with witches, the light looked slightly purple."

Sam sighed but agreed. "Okay. Just don't do anything until we get there, it should take us 2 days." Sam was silent for a beat and then interrupted his brother's next sentence. "Dude, how did you see the light? It's like not even half past 4 in the morning. Even Jack is sleeping."

"I was on the roof." Dean answered.

Sam was worried. It's not like their roof was high off the ground and his brother could jump and hurt himself but why Dean would feel the need to sit on the roof at strange hours of the morning was beyond Sam and he told Dean this.

Dean chuckled but Sam thought it sounded sad. "Dude I wish I could sleep as well as you do. I sit on the roof often, it's quieter and just easier than being inside the bunker. Also, you should see the stars Sammy, they are gorgeous most nights." Dean said and this time Sam could definitely hear something other than happiness in his brother's voice.

Sam sometimes forgot how weird his brother could be, especially with this star thing he seemed to have developed. Sam wondered if it was because he felt like he was away from the memories of Cas or if seeing the stars made him feel closer to Cas. "Okay then Dean. As long as you're being safe." He said.

Dean scoffed. "Always Sammy." He said before steamrolling on. "So 2 days?" He asked.

Sam had barely muttered out an agreement before he heard the dial tone in his ear. He sighed and tilted his head back. He could just see the tip of the sun peeking over the horizon and the sky was rapidly lightening all over. He checked the time, almost 5 o' clock. He looked back at the sky and tried to see what Dean saw in the stars but there was too many lights in the city and he decided to try another day.

He turned and went back into the motel room. "Jack?" he called toward the other bed. "We need to leave soon. There was this weird light that we need to go check out."

Nothing but radio silence from Jack made Sam's heart sink. He slowly went over to Jack's bed and gasped. Dean was going to kill him, just straight up murder him and he wouldn't even blame his brother. God, what were they going to do.

His hands shook as he struggled to decide what to do or who to call and eventually settled for Eileen. He fumbled with his phone, sending Eileen a quick text that read "make sure you are alone."

He waited for her to read it and then immediately video called her. "We have a problem." He said, panic rising and mind racing.

 

*********

Gabriel was super pissed. He had been sleeping so nicely when all of a sudden there was a loud hissing noise and his eyes opened to nothingness. Not a sound, not another person, just empty nothing. He had heard stories about this place, the place angels went when they died but he hadn't expected it to be so literal. He thought it would just have nobody but it was actual emptiness.

He frowned as there was a loud ripping noise and all of a sudden there was a golden tear in the Empty. Gabriel had seen this thing before and he wondered how Jack had managed to get around the Empty. He didn't care though, anything was better than this weird place.

He made a desperate lunge for the rift and stumbled out, his foot catching on something, and heading face first into dirt.

He sat up and spat out a mouthful of grime then had to sit for an extra minute as his hands and knees stung painfully. He wasn't sure why everything hurt so much so he searched anxiously for a sign of his grace.

He sighed in relief as he found it but it was too little to do anything with. "The doorway must have been charmed to get rid of an angel's grace." Said someone and Gabriel jumped in surprise.

He was suddenly aware that he was part of a small group of about 10 angels that had made it out of The Empty.

One of the angels was going around helping the others up. Gabriel had no energy left to try and identify anyone else so he focused on the one who seemed to have an idea of what might have happened. "Well thank Dad that we have you here." He said to this angel.

"I'm your best shot." Samandriel replied calmly. "I used to have to research things you know, make sure it was all running smoothly so yes, your grace is all but gone for now but it will replenish itself if you give it time. For now, we need a place to sleep and something to eat." He said and Gabriel found himself thankful that at least one of them had common sense.

"Where are we?" He asked.

"I think somewhere in Australia but I'm not sure exactly where." Samandriel answered and then raised his voice to instruct the others to buddy up and follow him to where he thought the road might be.

Gabriel rolled his eyes but fell into line dutifully, not even looking at his buddy and ignoring her questions about himself. All he wanted was to get back into the swing of things but for that he needed his grace. At least he wasn't stuck in that awful, dark place. This place wasn't much better since everybody but one angel was talking at once and trying to figure out where they were. Gabriel left his buddy and walked up to this other angel. "Back again?" He questioned, not even pretending to be surprised.

The other angel nodded but stayed silent, a frown on their face.

"Ahh still the silent type. Okay then buddy, we won't talk at all. Guess you have a lot on your mind huh?" Gabriel said and carried on putting one foot in front of the other, missing the other angel's distracted nod. They walked in silence, trusting their leader to get them back to civilisation sooner rather than later.

Chapter Text

Chapter 14: Wait, Jack's a BABY?!!!

Sam tried not to panic but it was hard. He stared down at the list of things that him and Eileen had compiled together and he took a deep breath, letting it out with a small groan.

He then grabbed the pillows on his bed and made his way over to Jack's bed. He looked at Jack, who was suddenly a small, sleeping baby. He shook his head, deciding that the light had something to do with Jack's sudden vulnerability and change in age before he aligned his pillows down one side of the bed and took Jack's pillows and put them on the other side.

Satisfied that the kid wouldn't suddenly roll off the bed, Sam turned back around, got dressed and started gathering clothes to shove back into duffel bags so that he could get back to the bunker and face Dean.

He stopped short when he noticed the pieces of paper on his duffel bag. Sam frowned and then curiously went over and picked them up.

All of the sheets of paper were from the pad of paper that the motel provided next to the phone in the reception.

There was one sheet, folded in half with Sam's name written on the front and then another two sheets, folded in half and the one was inside the other. The top sheet had the word "Dad" written on it and in small writing underneath that, in brackets, lay the word Dean, as if the reader wouldn't know who "Dad" was.

Sam put Dean's note inside his jacket pocket and then sat back down on his own bed to read his note.

Sam, it read, please don't be angry. I have thought a lot about what you said about being a child still. I agree that it would have been easier if I was a baby from the beginning, you and Dad would never have had to choose between saving the world and saving me.
Don't be too hard on yourself, this wasn't your fault. It was the one part of the plan that even Rowena didn't know. I did open the Empty first so if you could please check that Castiel got out, I would appreciate it.
I didn't tell Dad in his letter that I tried to rescue Castiel, incase it didn't work, I didn't want to give him false hope. I don't think he would manage to overcome the disappointment of that.
Please give him my letter, it will explain everything to him. It would also mean a lot if you could convince him that this isn't his fault, I want this. It's simpler this way. Now I'm a normal Nephil child with no godly powers and I can truly be Dean's son.
Thanks Sam, for everything these past few days and my whole life.
Jack xxx

Sam smiled down at the letter, quietly relieved that Jack had gotten what he desperately wanted, a chance to start all over. Sam wasn't sure if Cas had made it out but he was certain that Dean would have let him know if Cas had appeared in the bunker all of a sudden so maybe Cas had gotten dropped off somewhere else. Jack did ask him to try to find Cas so Sam decided to try.

He also decided not to tell Dean about Jack's deal with The Empty, at least until he had found Cas or proof that Cas was alive. Jack was right about one thing, Dean wouldn't survive the disappointment of Cas not being able to make it out of the Empty. Not again.

Sam put his letter from Jack into his other pocket and then gathered the last of his things, zipped the bags closed, dumped them in the car, checked out and finally went to fetch Jack.

He had a plan. First of all, Jack needed a few essentials like diapers and clothes. Jack had been kind enough to make sure he had a diaper on as well as a blue sleepsuit, complete with small poppers going from the toes of one foot all the way up to his neck. Sam gingerly lifted the sleeping baby from the bed and tried not to rouse him but Jack opened his eyes, looked around and promptly opened his small mouth and started sreaming.

Sam rushed to the car and then got stuck. He knew that babies couldn't be strapped in without a car seat but obviously, Jack didn't have one. He had to make a makeshift seatbelt to keep Jack safe in the passenger seat of the car until he could get to the nearest baby store and buy a car seat for him.

He rushed around the front of the car and slid into his seat, slamming the door shut. He turned to the seat next to him where Jack lay and tried to soothe him with one hand while his other looked up nearby baby stores, clicking on the directions for one that was 11 minutes away.

Jack screamed the whole way there and the entire time they were in the store. Sam found himself trying to rock Jack as he had seen Garth and Dean do while holding babies but nothing seemed to work so he eventually just gave up and got through the rest of the shopping quickly. Eileen had mentioned that Jack couldn't eat actual food since he was a baby but Sam sent her a desperate text when he saw all of the different brands of formula that he could get and Eileen sent him a text back to give him the name of the formula that her doctor friend recommended.

Sam hurriedly paid for everything and then rushed back to his car. He laid Jack on the back seat and quickly read the tin and made Jack a bottle, hoping that Jack being a nephilim would stop him from getting too sick from the unsterilized bottle and the bottled water.

Once Jack was happily sucking his bottle, Sam set the fancy Snug n Safe up in the back of the car, following the instructions and then got Jack sorted and safely in the seat once it was all safely tied in and Jack had finished his bottle.

Sam then packed the bottle with the rest of his supplies and stuffed it onto the floor of the passenger side incase he needed something urgently while driving and got back into his side of the car, let Eileen know that they were on their way and sped off, 15 miles over the speed limit, toward the bunker. He just hoped that Jack was going to be fine to sleep in the car since Sam didn't want to have to take the whole seat out and then put it all back in in the morning.

He found himself straightening his shoulders at the idea that all that stood between him and a furious Dean was an uncomfortable night in the car with a small baby and almost 2 full days of driving with said baby. Sam knew that nothing had prepared him for this but he had to get back to the bunker.

Sam finally put the radio on softly and gave Jack one of the three rattles he had bought for him. He started pushing the car even faster at the sound of Jack happily shaking the rattle.

*******

Dean found himself hesistating outside Ben's door. He knew it was silly but he was nervous. It had been a few years since he had felt the need to make someone want to be around him and the last person was Jack who inevitably ended up with Dean and Sam since they all wanted to save the world.

Dean shook himself out of his thoughts and then knocked lightly on Ben's door. He waited till he heard Ben's yell and then he opened the door just enough to poke his head inside.

"Hey Ben, I wanted to ask you something." Dean said.

Ben turned away from his laptop and nodded for Dean to continue.

"So I thought that since you seemed to really like that house that needed all that fixing up, you might want to come with me to see it again? The seller is having another open house today and if you wanted to, we could go and you could tell me your ideas for it. Then we can have a serious discussion tomorrow about if we want to buy it or not." Dean let the offer tumble out of his mouth, trying not to second guess himself.

Ben's face lit up and Dean smiled in response. "I would love to go with you! When can we leave?" He asked.

"Whenever you are ready. We must just be back by 7 tonight since that's when Sam said he should be back." Dean answered and Ben eagerly put his shoes on and grabbed a jacket before following Dean to the garage where they piled into Baby and drove the hour or so out of the main town, Ben choosing the music, and pulled up at the house.

There was only one other car there and an attractive woman stood leaning against the hood of the car, looking down at her phone, the epitome of boredom.

She looked up and then did a double take when she saw Ben and Dean get out of the car. Dean almost laughed at her excitement at seeing them as she rushed toward them, extending her hand and introducing herself as Linda, the realtor.

Dean introduced himself and Ben and then cleared his throat awkwardly at the way Linda's eyes traversed his body before meeting his eyes again with a coy smile painting her lips.

Ben almost ran to the front door and Dean followed quickly, not wanting to have to let Linda down when she might give them a better price.

She was busy trying to tell him all the pro's to buying the house but seemed to always circle back to the way it "could" look once it had been remodelled. Ben cut off her offer of finding a contractor with a small scoff. Dean shot him a look and then explained how himself and his two sons would be doing most of the work themselves to make it more authentic.

Dean waded through her half hearted apologies at her overstepping and simply brushed it off, asking if they could have some time to wonder around the house by themselves to decide if it would work for them.

Once Linda had gone, Ben grabbed Dean's wrist and tugged him to the kitchen where he started explaining his ideas for the colours and style that would work. Dean let himself be dragged along, enjoying the time him and Ben got to spend together, just the two of them. Ben needed it, he had already confessed to feeling left out but Dean also needed this time. The time they spent bonding meant that Dean was one step closer to being everything John was not. Dean needed to be better than his father, even if the two kids he was looking after weren't exactly kids anymore.

********

Eileen sat waiting anxiously in the map room for Sam and Jack to get back. She didn't know how long they were still going to be and Dean had sent her a message saying that him and Ben were getting dinner on the road and would only be back later than they intended.

It turned out good in the end since Sam and Jack were also slightly late. Eileen looked at her watch again, noting that it was now almost 20 minutes after the time Sam has said he would arrive. She sighed and then jumped out of her seat as the lights in the bunker flickered once, the signal Dean had rigged up to let Eileen know if someone opened one of the 3 doors into the bunker.

She rushed to the garage and met Sam as he had just shut the door. He had Jack, asleep, in his car seat in one hand and the huge bags of supplies in the other hand. He looked exhausted and pissed off.

Eileen simply opened her arms and Sam put Jack down gently, dropped the bags and folded himself into her arms. She rubbed his back for a few minutes and watched baby Jack slowly blink his eyes open, look around and open his mouth.

Sam pulled away from her and scrunched his nose up. Eileen raised her eyebrows at him and he signed one word half-heartedly. Eileen recognised the sign for "loud" and she stifled a grin.

She signed back a quick "shame" and hoped her sarcasm came through before she stooped to unclip Jack's chair and lift him out. She cradled him in her arms and smiled down at him, rocking him slightly.

He squirmed in her arms and she quickly checked with Sam only for him to tell her that his screams had gotten louder. "He just had a bottle like 2 hours ago and he doesn't need a nap, he had one. I don't get it." Sam signed to her, tugging his hair in frustration.

"I'll handle him. You put his stuff in the living room. If you walk in, you'll see that that is where I set up his crib for now. Then go put your stuff away. I'll be fine." Eileen reassured him, quickly giving his hand a squeeze with the one not holding Jack and then accepted the kiss he gave her with a smile.

She watched him disappear around the corner and then set off with Jack, doing everything she could think of to calm him down. She rocked him, bounced him, swayed with him, let him sit up in her arms, held him facing both toward and away from her and even changed his diaper which didn't need changing.

She had just run out of options when Sam walked back into the living room where she was and she gladly handed Jack over to him but, with a quick shake of his head, Eileen knew that they hadn't solved anything by swapping. Before either of them could do anything else, the bunker lights flickered once and Sam glanced toward the garage and then looked back at Eileen panicked.

Eileen took that to mean that Dean and Ben were back and she gave Sam a small smile before going toward the garage to head them off and warn both Dean and Ben about the new situation they found themselves in.

*******

Dean let Ben carry the box into the bunker before he grabbed the other bag and let the door swing shut behind him as he walked to the kitchen.

"Do you think Sam will like the stuff we got?" Ben asked, peeking inside Dean's bag.

Dean smiled at Ben, "I'm sure he will. He might be pissed that we went shopping when we don't even own the house yet but he'll come around." Dean said and they both looked up as Eileen came into the kitchen with a small smile.

They exchanged hugs and then Dean frowned and tilted his head to the side slightly. "Did you hear that?" Dean asked Ben and both him and Ben listened hard while Eileen tried to get them to talk about their day.

"No. I don't hear anyth-" Ben started but was interrupted by a small cry. "Is that Sam?" Ben asked and scrunched up his nose.

Dean furrowed his eyebrows and slowly shook his head in answer but allowed Eileen to distract them both with her questions about their day and this house that Dean had put an offer on but would only hear back from the realtor in 2 weeks when the owners got back from vacation.

Dean started putting away the few groceries they needed and put the other things he had bought on top of the box.

"I'll take it to a guest bedroom." Ben offered and Dean nodded his consent before telling him which room to take it to.

As Ben left the kitchen, there was a loud crying sound that made Dean's head shoot up and caused Ben to come back into the kitchen, box still in his arms. "What is that?" Ben asked, shuffling closer to Dean.

Dean squeezed his arm and then walked past him. "It's a baby. " He said and ignored Eileen's frantic signing to Ben as he followed the screaming to the living room.

The sight that greeted him made his heart sink. Sam was in the middle of the room, a baby laying half in his arms and half out of them and he was desperately trying to shush the baby, violently rocking and shaking the baby which caused the child to cry even more.

"Sam, Sam, Sammy. Gently, gently." Dean said and half ran forward to stop Sam from being too rough.

Sam looked up at Dean and Dean could see the red eyed exhaustion painted on his face. He scooped the baby up out of Sam's arms gently and cradled the child to his chest. He slowly started swaying from side to side, adding in a bounce every once in a while to keep it interesting.

The child, who had blue clothes on, slowly stopped screaming and raised their head to look at Dean. Dean's breath caught in his throat as he found himself staring into eyes that reminded him of Jack.

"Thank the lord. Finally some peace and quiet." Sam said softly and rubbed his eyes.

Dean's swaying faltered and he looked back at Sam. "What is going on here Sam? This baby... where did it come from?" Dean asked his brother.

Sam sighed and then handed Dean a folded up letter. "Read this. Then I'll answer your questions." He said.

Dean shifted the child into his one arm and accepted the letter with the other hand. He looked back at Sam who nodded and took the baby back. Dean chuckled at Sam's cautiously rough way of holding a baby and then gave Sam a few tips on how to hold a baby.

He settled himself onto the closest couch and opened his letter.

Dad,

I hope you can forgive me. I just wanted it to be simpler for everybody. Don't be mad at Rowena, she didn't know my plan. It wasn't Sam's fault either although he helped put everything into perspective. I only hope that you can love me like this. This is what I want so don't try to change me back, please. I just wanted to be a kid again so let me be one, that's all I ask. I know that I can trust you to take care of me and help me become the best Winchester that I can be. I just wish I could've said goodbye properly Dad but this wasn't something I wanted to be talked out of. I love you so much and I hope that you can still love me, even though I won't be able to understand you. Tell Ben that I didn't want to leave before we finished our Lego building but I saw my opportunity and anyway, you and him need some time together anyway. I hope he knows that I did this for him as well. Now you and him can bond and I can be the innocent baby that I have been all along anyway. This is what I wanted so NEVER feel bad okay Dad! I wanted to grow up as normal as I could. I love you Dad. Hugs and Kisses.
Your son, Jack
xxx
P.S I hope you get the house. It seems like an awesome place to grow up!
P.P.S the purple light was me changing into a baby, sorry if I worried you.

Dean read the letter twice more before folding it up carefully and putting it into his pocket. "That's Jack?" He asked Sam who was watching him closely while Jack? played with his buttons on his shirt.

"Yeah." Sam answered with a small smile and explained what all had happened while they were away.

Dean felt anger building up inside himself. "So you're telling me that while Ben and I watched movies and spoke and went to see the other house, you were encouraging Jack to become a BABY?" Dean's raised voice at the end of his question made Ben come rushing into the room, Eileen piling in after him.

"Jack's a baby?" Ben asked and his eyes landed on Jack, in Sam's arms.

Dean just let out a large sigh and stormed out of the room, quivering with anger and left Sam to explain.

He got ready for bed and huddled under his covers even though it wasn't too cold in the bunker yet.

God Cas... what am I supposed to do now Angel? What I wouldn't give for some advice from you right now, God! That kid is going to be the death of me and we don't want that. Miss you so much right about now. In other, happier news... The house is nice, made an offer so we wait now to see of it's accepted. We might need to add on if Jack's a baby though... there wasn't really space for the whole baby thing. Wish you could've seen the place. So much space for everybody to come visit and so much space for all the shit I want and all that Ben wants. Anyway, I'll leave you to it then. See you soon Angel.

Dean fell asleep as soon as his prayer was done, the faint sound of a baby crying echoing into his room and making him frown in his sleep.

Chapter Text

Chapter 15: Drunk and Disorderly.

Sam jolted awake at the sound of crying and he rubbed a rough hand over his face before slowly getting out of bed. He glanced at Eileen, sleeping peacefully next to him and wished he was deaf as well since at least she could sleep.

He shuffled to the crib set up near the closet and reached in, picking Jack up and then turning back to bed, Jack nestled in his arms. He caught sight of the clock on his way back. 5:13 am. The last time he had slept this little was when he was soulless and didn't care about sleep. He lay Jack next to Eileen and then got back in bed, reaching out to grab the book off the bedside table.

Jack gurgled happily at the new texture of the bedsheets and swatted at Sam's book, content with his current situation. Sam sighed and let Jack do what he pleased while he tried to read more of the book he was trying to finish.

By the time Jack got bored, Sam had finished 4 chapters and so Sam heaved himself out of the warm bed, scooped Jack up again and walked to the kitchen.

He started on a bottle for Jack and then got Jack changed, clean and ready for the day while the bottles finished sterilizing. He let Jack drink his fill and started on breakfast for everybody else. Eileen came into the kitchen halfway through his cooking and smiled at Jack before picking him and and giving him a cuddle.

Before either of them could discuss their options, Ben slid into the kitchen, his socked feet allowing him to slide away, took one look at Jack and grinned. He took Jack from Eileen and waved at Sam before taking Jack into the living room and switching on the tv. Sam heard the blaring of some show Ben was watching and heard Ben telling Jack all about it. Sam finished cooking breakfast and took some to Ben who was watching his show with a dozing Jack on his arms.

Sam pried Jack away from Ben and settled him in the camp cot Eileen had put in the living room. Eileen joined them in the living room and Sam took the opportunity to go get Dean from him room.

"Dean," he said, knocking at the door, "I know you're pissed at me but there's breakfast and a baby we need to talk about."

Silence.

"Come on Dean!" Sam insisted, knocking louder.

More silence.

Sam let out an angry huff and pushed open the door. He was met with an empty room and Dean's keys were gone. He almost ran to the garage but when he couldn't find the Impala he knew that Dean had done what he did best, run.

He went to break the news to the others who were giggling at Jack's snoring.

Eileen didn't look surprised in the least but Ben appeared disappointed. "I'm sorry Ben. Dean gets like this sometimes. We just have to wait him out." Sam said, squeezing Ben's shoulder.

"I hope he comes back soon." Was all Ben said before Jack interrupted them with a cry.

Sam sighed and went over to Jack, already exhausted from being up all night with the child. "Oh Jack... just a few more hours please." He joked as he picked him up.

His face immediately fell and he looked to Eileen in despair. "He stinks." He signed to her and she laughed delightedly.

"He stinks." Sam said to Ben who joined in with Eileen's laughter.

They both settled back to watch Sam struggle. "I can do this. Can't I Jack?" Sam asked and got a loud shriek as his answer. He got to work with a sigh, knowing that the day was going to be a long one and hoping that Dean would come back and help them soon.

******

Dean found himself sleeping in the back of the Impala for the first time in years. His back immediately complained when he woke up the next morning. His head ached from the whiskey and beer he had drank in order to sleep and all he wanted to do was be in his comfortable bed back at the bunker, able to slowly go to the kitchen and get some coffee or something to eat.

Dean slowly righted himself in the back of Baby and wished more than anything that he had something to rinse the taste of stale alcohol out of his mouth.

His tired gaze fell on the bottle of whiskey that still had a sip in. His nose scrunched up in disgust but he grabbed the bottle and swallowed the last of his whiskey.

It burned going down in a way that Dean wasn't used to anymore and he felt a shiver go down his spine at the disgusting taste. He slowly got himself into the driver's seat and started Baby.

He was going back to the Bunker, he really was. It wasn't his fault he passed a dingy bar on his way and needed something to wipe the awful taste of warm alcohol out of his mouth. He really was only going to have a Coke or water but then the bartender took one look at him, poured him a whiskey and offered him a tequila on the house.

Dean was never one to say No to free anything and so he spent his second day drinking alone in some bar and that night he only made it to the gravel next to Baby before he passed out, his brain deliciously quiet.

Dean was roughly awoken by someone shaking him. His eyes shot open only to stare blankly at the face hovering close to his own.

Sam's face slowly swimming into view, was a familiar sight. "You awake dude?" He asked.

Dean groaned but nodded and went to lift himself up. He looked around himself and blinked in confusion. He remembered passing out next to Baby and then going back into the bar to use the toilet sometime after that but how he got to an open field he will never know. "Did you bring me here?" Dean asked his brother, giving up on trying to piece his memories back together and focussing on his dry throat and the itch he felt for more alcohol.

Dean looked back at his brother and was shocked to see that it was no longer Sam but a concerned looking trucker. "No dude. I found you laying here and thought you were dead. I wanted to check before I called 911." The trucker said.

Dean nodded. "Yeah. Just a late night. Didn't want to drive back and put someone in danger." He said and gave a tight smile, his hand closing around the keys to Baby which he found in his back pocket.

The trucker seemed satisfied and they said their goodbyes before sauntering off to their truck and giving Dean a friendly honk as they drove off.

"Ah Baby, he looked a lot like Sam." Dean said to his car as he walked around her, looking for any damage. "I think that's my conscious talking. Let's get some water for me, gas for you and head back to the bunker... maybe get a shower somewhere too. What do you think?"

Dean got into his car and slowly made his way out of the field. He had to stop and search where he was on Google but once he knew that he wasn't somewhere crazy, just 2 hours away from home, he could start heading back.

He almost made it but the itch for alcohol overtook him just half an hour from the bunker and his hands were shaking too much to drive safely. Dean knew it was the withdrawal and he knew he could beat it but he didn't want to. He just wanted life to be simple again and he was overthinking the whole situation with Jack and so it seemed like a good idea to pull over at his second favourite bar and allow himself one drink which was quickly followed by another and another until Dean came too with a start from his name being yelled.

"The fire?" He slurred as he sat up. "Oh hiya Sammy, come sit with me. It's fun."

Sam reached him finally and grabbed his shoulders. "You're drunk." He said, a frown tugging at his mouth.

"Nope. Just more funner than you Samantha." Dean slurred some more and then giggled making Sam turn away in disgust.

He knew that Sam was talking to the bartender who looked seriously pissed but he couldn't hear what was being said since he just noticed that Sam was in socks with no shoes.

"Hey Sammy, Sammy, Sammmmmmy," Dean said, tugging on his brother's sleeve like a child, "Did the bad man take your shoes?" and proceeded to dissolve into giggles and snorts which turned into hiccups which turned into Sam hurrying them outside before the bartender could throw them out.

"Seriously Dean? How old are you?"

Dean squinted at his brother but Sam seemed serious so Dean answered with a giggle. "Is a secret Sammy... you'll never know."

At Sam's eye roll, Dean's laughs filled the night air. Sam tried to get him to stop laughing and walk properly by heaving Dean into his side but that put pressure on Dean's stomach and with a soft "whoopsie", the alcohol that Dean had consumed that night made its way out of Dean and onto Sam's shoes as well as the gravel outside the bar.

"Ugh, Dean!" Sam yelled and Dean knew somewhere in the back of his mind that Sam was pissed but he couldn't stop laughing or hiccuping and that brought on small amounts of vomit each time.

Once everything had calmed down, Sam drove them to a motel a few blocks away, gave Dean some water and sat next to him until he fell asleep, sprawled on his back and his body giving a small shake every now and again when his hiccups would rattle through him.

 

When Dean opened his eyes next, he knew it was late into the day and he happily drank the medication on his nightstand and then downed the whole bottle of water. He went to do his morning business in the bathroom and came back to find Sam sitting on the other bed with a grim look on his face.

"Breakfast." Sam said shortly and tossed Dean a breakfast sandwich from the garage just across the road.

They had their breakfast in silence and Dean was almost sure he had gotten away with his behaviour last night when he heard a small sob come from the other end of the room. His head shot up in horror and Dean winced at the sight of Sam trying not to cry but not succeeding.

"Sam?" He ventured.

"Do you have any idea how awful it is to get a call at 9 at night from Joe and be told that I should come fetch you since he doesn't want you to drive home?" Sam said angrily and wiped away some of his tears, allowing others to fall in their place.

"Hey Sammy, I'm okay. I'll always be okay." Dean tried to reassure his brother but instead causing Sam to stand up and storm over to him.

"No Dean. You might have been okay last night but I didn't know what to do! I didn't know if you should sleep so soon after being sick all over! I wasn't sure if you should've eaten something! I had no idea if I should have taken you to a hospital to get your stomach pumped since according to Joe you were drunk before he even got there and we both know he works from 5pm. That's a lot of alcohol even for you! What would I have told Ben and Jack?! That their only parent had gone and killed himself by drinking too much?!" Sam yelled and Dean pulled his brother into a tight hug.

"Never Sammy. I would never let it get that bad." He said.

"That's what Dad said and look what it did to him." Sam whispered and Dean's arms fell from his brother as he stepped back in horror. "You left Jack and Ben exactly the same way Dad left us Dean. I don't want to have to tell you that but it's true. And I come to help you and you are drunk out of your mind just like he was whenever you helped him. I tried my best but I couldn't remember how you helped him when he needed it. I don't want to have to look after those two boys, neither does Eileen. We want it to be your thing. But we will if we have to Dean. I won't let them grow up like we did while their father, you, wastes away and they end up hating you. Don't make me do this please." Sam pleaded with his brother and Dean's heart sank.

"I just needed to breathe. It's a lot all at once. I never meant to leave them with you for these few days. I'm so sorry Sammy." Dean said apologetically.

"It's been two weeks Dean! That's why I was so happy to get the call from Joe. That's why I'm so pissed now. A few days is fine, everyone needs to freak out but weeks? That's not right." Sam said, angrily wiping the last of his tears and crossing his arms.

Dean withered under his brother's stare, his guilt rising up inside of him. "God... they must hate me. You all must hate me." He muttered.

Sam sighed and reassured him that nobody hated him.

"Never again Sam. I promise." Dean said and had to shrug off the hurt he felt when it looked like Sam didn't believe him.

They both had a shower, Dean accepting the cold water his brother left for him as his punishment, changed into the clothes Sam had brought and brushed their teeth. The drive home was short but silent, each in their own car but Sam following Dean as if to make sure he went back to the bunker and didn't stop anywhere else.

Dean wasn't ready to face the rest of his family but he squared his shoulders and followed Sam into the bunker, taking a deep breath as he did so.

Help me Cas. Please. Was his prayer that he knew was too late for Cas to help him but he couldn't help doing it anyway and then feeling more hurt at the silence that followed.

He paled but turned around quickly at the sound of a small, timid voice behind him. "Dean?"

It was now or never.

Chapter Text

Chapter 16: Building Bridges.

Ben was nervous. He knew that Dean was on his way back from god knows where since Sam had stormed off in a huff to find him.

Ben had quietly gone about his evening helping Eileen with Jack and trying not to think about Dean's reaction to Jack being a baby.

Spending time with Baby Jack over the course of the few weeks that Dean had been gone had been really good. Ben was taken aback at how much care went into babies but he was happy to help with anything he could. He was also lucky in that Sam had phoned the school and said that Ben couldn't attend for the next month due to personal, family complications and the school had been kind enough to email homework to Sam's "normal" email address so Ben wasn't behind with his school work.

He had helped Eileen take Jack to her doctor friend who had proclaimed Jack a healthy 4 month old and had recommended a pediatrician nearby for Jack to go see regularly and for his vaccinations.

Ben didn't know what changed and why Sam needed to go get Dean but he quietly cleaned up the living room and watched Jack while Eileen reheated their lunch so that Dean and Sam could eat something when they got back.

Ben heard the garage open and so he grabbed Jack and went to the kitchen to let Eileen know that Sam was back. Eileen took Jack and nudged Ben toward the door of the bunker.

He smiled nervously as Sam emerged looking frazzled but relieved and got a small pat on the back from him as he walked past to his wife.

He uttered a quiet "Dean" as the man came into view and they both stared at each other for a minute before Dean opened his arms and Ben ran into them, hugging Dean tight and realising how much he had missed him.

He felt Dean's arms squeezing him before letting go slightly and so he moved out of the way so that Dean could greet Jack.

Instead, Ben got a hand on his shoulder and a heartfelt apology from Dean who promised to never leave him again, not so suddenly anyway.

Ben nodded happily and went to go bring the late lunch to the table for everyone who needed it. He was just happy that Dean was back and he hoped that he could now start school and they could all be a family again.

***********

Dean woke up the next morning to a aching head and shaking hands as well as a voicemail from the realtor that their offer was accepted and that she wanted to meet to sign the last of the paperwork and hand over the keys.

He texted her to meet him the next afternoon at her offices and then got himself ready to face the day. He needed to show Ben that it wasn't a common thing, him going off to get drunk, and that he actually wanted to be there.

The first thing that didn't go according to plan that morning was being handed a screaming baby the minute he entered the kitchen.

"He is all yours. His stuff is around here somewhere." Sam mumbled as he handed Jack over and stumbled out of the kitchen, exhaustion etched into the lines near his eyes.

Dean sighed and had to fight with Jack to accept a bottle and then had to try and change a giggling, curious baby's diaper. "If you would just lie still Jack, we could be done by now." Dean pleaded for the millionth time as Jack twisted his body around to see the shadows dancing on the wall behind him.

Dean didn't get an intelligible response and so he tried to work quickly. He yanked at the tab for the diaper and pulled the whole thing off. "Oh for fuck's sake!" He yelled, tossing the useless diaper into the bin and grabbing a new one.

Ben burst into the room just as Jack turned back to look at Dean. "You okay?" Ben asked tentatively.

"Yeah I'm good. Just having a moment." Dean said and took a deep breath before sticking his tongue out at Jack and then smiling when Jack gave him a small giggle. He slowly went back to the task at hand so that they could go do something more fun than this.

The second thing to go wrong was running out of ingredients to make pancakes as a thank you to everybody for helping with Jack.

Dean dragged his hand through his hair and made a list of things he needed from the store. He then had to drag Ben and Jack away from their game of peekaboo in order for them to go with him since Sam and Eileen were resting and Ben wanted to go with so Jack had to come along.

The third thing to go wrong was Jack decidedly hating being out of the bunker and having to go shopping and screaming the entire time they were at the store. Eventually Dean resigned himself to dirty looks and allowed Ben to go wait in the car for him.

Once shopping was done, pancakes were made and everybody was happy, Sam caused the next issue by bringing up the fact that Jack wasn't his, Jack was Dean's by his own admission and so Sam thought it would be best to move everything of Jack's, like his crib, from Sam's room to Dean's which made Dean feel guilty about not being there for the kid from the beginning and so he huffed his way through furniture relocation which took all day in between making sure that Jack was full, clean, well rested and happy.

They all went to bed early that night. Dean gratefully collapsed into bed and cuddled his pillow like he usually did. He had just started to drift off when there was a small cry from the crib next to him and he rolled over onto his back and cursed Sam and his "parenting books" which suggested allowing a baby to sleep in your room until they were a bit older.

This would be a lot easier if you were here Cas. ran through Dean's mind but he shoved it away and got out of bed to deal with Jack. It was going to be a long night.

Chapter Text

Chapter 17: Something Always Ruins A Good Day...

Dean smiled as he set the last box down in the middle of the kitchen. It had taken him almost 6 weeks to get the kitchen and bathroom functional but he had done it. Ben had helped when he wasn't at school or doing homework and Sam had helped for around 2 weeks before going on multiple hunts almost back-to-back so most days it was just Dean and a babbling Jack although sometimes it was a very uncooperative Jack who screamed and demanded attention for a few hours and so work had to halt for the foreseeable future until Dean could calm Jack down.

It was nowhere near finished, not at all but Ben had insisted that he wanted to move in sooner rather than later and so Dean had made sure that they could live in the house before they moved in. He hadn't touched the rest of the house except to mow the lawn which had taken him two days with how overgrown it was.

All they had was a functioning kitchen, a decent enough bathroom and their mattresses on the floor of their respectable rooms. Jack's crib was in Dean's room since there was no way he was letting the kid sleep in his own room, at least not until it was perfect. Ben had helped him sweep and dust the rooms so that it wasn't detrimental to their health and so they would be living amongst the rubble for a few months or so.

Ben had so many ideas and always made sure to remember things that Jack had mentioned which Dean didn't even remember and together they had come up with a remodelling plan and a design that Dean had taken to a contractor he knew from life with his father and the guy had made sure everything was good to go and had offered to get his guys to do the electrical work and the rest of the plumbing when Dean was ready.

The best part had been teaching Ben how to handle different items and tools and how to not only break things down and rip things apart but to also assemble things gently which Dean had enjoyed more than tearing the place up since it allowed him to distance himself even more from his hunting days.

"Hey Dean," Ben said, disturbing Dean's thoughts as he came into the kitchen holding onto a squirming Jack. "Sam wants to know where he must leave the boxes for the living room."

Dean grinned at the way Ben was trying to keep his hair away from a grabby Jack. "I'll go help him out. While I do that, think about what you want for dinner. I'm not cooking today, and we are having pizza for lunch." Dean said and left Ben to go help his brother.

"Dammit Jack, that's my ear! It's still attached dude." Came the echoing from Ben as a happy squeal drifted through the house.

Dean smiled as he heard how happy his boys were and left the house to see Sam surrounded by boxes and a sceptical frown on his face.

"You have too much stuff and it's not even furniture." Sam said as soon as he saw Dean.

"Stop complaining and get this inside. We are putting it in the guest room for now since there's no way we will be having guests any time soon." Dean said with a grin as he picked up his first box and started the long trip to the guest room, Sam grumbling behind him as he followed Dean through the house.

 

*********

The week after they moved into the house, Ben's school broke up and Dean suddenly found himself with an extra pair of eager hands and togther they completed the expanding of the kitchen into the dining room and completely redid the dining room and sun room since Ben was eager to finish something that he could just enjoy and not have it be somewhere he had to do chores in.

As they were removing the old flooring, they were discussing the possibility of a pool. Ben apparently needed a pool to seem cool at school but Dean wasn't sold on the idea, water bills alone would be through the roof but he allowed Ben to try to change his mind. Jack was playing in his play pen in a corner of the kitchen that Dean could see through the opened wall and so it was with half a mind that he put down the tools he was using and went to check on Jack, to make sure he was still fine.

Ben, however, decided at that exact moment to try to pry out a stubborn board with his Swiss Army knife and so Dean brushed up against the blade as he walked past when Ben flicked it open and he could feel the blade slicing open his shirt. He cried out and jerked back, Ben dropping the knife in horror as he stared at Dean. "I'm so sorry." He wailed but Dean smiled gently.

"Don't worry Ben, it's just a shirt. It can be replaced." Dean reassured his son and then frowned when he looked down at his open shirt and saw a spot of blood.

"I cut you! Oh my word. You're going to die and it's going to be my fault!" Ben's statement brought Dean out of his thoughts and he simply chuckled slightly and then pulled off his shirt, using it to wipe the blood away only to find a small cut, no bigger or deeper than a paper cut just above his belly button.

"I won't die, relax. It's so small, it's already stopped bleeding. See?" Dean told him and gestured to his stomach.

The horrified gasp that followed wasn't what Dean was expecting and so he felt confusion and apprehension stirring in his gut. "Ben?" He tried, taking a step closer to his son who was standing eerily still.

"What happened to you?" came the soft answer, Ben's eyes never leaving the place Dean's shirt had covered. "It looks like a burn, did you burn yourself?"

Dean winced and looked back down at his chest. He had gotten so used to not looking down and not looking in a full length mirror that he had forgotten how bad it looked to someone who had never seen it. "It's nothing, I promise you." Dean said and tried to go and get a new shirt from his room.

"Dean wait. Please." The plea echoed through the house, even Jack falling silent as Dean paused at the vulnerability in his son's voice. "Can you tell me what happened? If you don't want to that's fine but it looks like it hurt and did you go to a hospital for it? If it's not a burn then what is it?" The questioning was natural but it made Dean take deep breaths to stop himself from starting a panic attack.

Dean turned back around with a tight smile. "I promise you, it's fine, I'm fine." Even he could hear his voice break a little. "It's from a long time ago, before you even remembered me again."

Ben looked lost and scared when the next question came through. "And you never got it fixed? Nobody ever knew? You just lived with that. Dean, I'm no expert but it looks like you were tortured. It looks like someone burned you in a pattern. I don't understand."

Dean squeezed Ben's arm. "I just need to get a shirt quickly and then I promise we will talk okay. Just know that I'm fine, I've had it for years and nobody tortured me. It wasn't on purpose." He said. "I'll explain now, I just need a new shirt."

Dean left Ben standing in the kitchen and walked to his room, pulling a clean shirt from his closet and hurriedly putting it on. His heart was racing and he felt like he couldn't breathe properly.

He sat down on his mattress and rested his head on his knees, taking deep breaths while humming Stairway To Heaven under his breath. He had had enough panic attacks over the years since they had defeated God to know how to ease into them and back out again as well as how to effectively anticipate one and try to either stop it or ride it out alone. Once he had calmed down enough to face Ben, he put on a smile that he knew looked fake and made his way back to where he could hear Ben singing Thunderstruck to Jack who was clapping along. He didn't want to have this conversation but he didn't want Ben feeling like he couldn't speak to Dean about anything so he squared his shoulders and rounded the last corner between him and his curious son.

Chapter Text

Chapter 18: Castiel, the Angel.

Dean wasn't sure how to start the conversation. Him and Ben were sitting on the grass underneath a big tree in their backyard with Jack rolling around on a blanket just next to them.

"Dean?" Ben questioned and broke the silence between them.

Dean gave him what he hoped was a decent smile before taking a deep breath and starting what felt like a heart-wrenching conversation to have.

"Do you remember Cas or Castiel as he was then? I don't know if you ever met him." Dean asked Ben, deciding it was better to start at the beginning.

"No, I don't think I knew him." Ben replied, hesitating slightly.

Dean gave him a quick smile before continuing. "I didn't think so. He did wipe your memories but that was so fleeting. You didn't get a chance to say anything. Anyway, he was an angel-"

"An angel? Are you serious?" Ben burst out, interrupting Dean with a gasp.

"Yeah, an actual, honest to God, angel." Dean replied with a genuine grin, happy to see Ben so excited. "He used to wear this dumb trench coat, it was beige, and he wore it over a suit and everything." Dean continued.

"Why?"

Dean shrugged. "Who knows. He liked it and we got used to it. When he was human for a while, it was a shock seeing him without it." Dean drifted off, thinking about when Cas and him had to help stop an Angel of Death and he had to give Dad advice on a woman and then on a baby.

"Yes so he's a trench coat wearing angel. What else? What does that have to do with your burn?" Ben asked, pulling Dean out of his memories.

"He is the one who pulled me out of Hell. I've told you about Hell so don't give me that face. I explained what happened when we did the bathroom." Dean said to a Ben who was frowning at him. "Anyway," Dean continued. "He pulled me out of Hell and left his mark on my shoulder to prove it."

Dean had to stop there and let Ben ogle his shoulder. Even Dean was surprised to see that it hadn't faded as much as he thought it would. It wasn't as red as it used to be and it crossed Dean's mind that it stopped being so red and prominent because Cas wasn't here anymore. He wanted to ask Sam about his theory but couldn't get past Cas's name and so he had left it to his own brain to figure out.

"He gave it to you? And then?" Ben asked allowing Dean to carry on.

"He became my best friend. We did a lot together. He saved my ass more times than I care to admit, he even saved Sam a bunch of times." A soft smile crossed Dean's face. "We could always count on him to get us out of a pickle and since he was an angel, he didn't understand the way we spoke so it was always good fun when he said something sarcastic but it was almost always wrong and it was some of the funniest times I've ever had."

There was silence for a few minutes, Dean lost in his memories and Ben sitting quietly next to him.

"So like Jack, before he turned himself into a baby. He also used to get sayings wrong and he spoke funny, all stiff and wrong." Ben said with a short laugh.

"Yeah, like an older version of Jack. That's what put me off at first." Dean said, looking down at his hands and twisting his fingers together. "Cas was, he was dead when Jack was first born and he looked and sounded so much like Cas that I couldn't. I couldn't even look at him for a while. Sam had to do it and I will never forgive myself for that. I failed him." Dean tried to clear his throat but he couldn't.

"I'm sure Jack has forgiven you. He chose you to be his dad now." Ben said quietly and Dean gave a derisive laugh.

"Not Jack's forgiveness I still need."

There was another heavy silence before Dean wiped his eyes and carried on. "I got this from when Cas di... when he died for the last time. He died sacrificing himself for me and the only thing I could do was hold on until it was too late." Dean glanced up and saw how confused Ben was. "When angels die their wings are burnt into the ground where they died to show that it was an angel that died there." Dean whispered the last part, his voice giving out.

"He died on you?" Ben exclaimed.

"He didn't want to. He tried to push me away but well, I'm stubborn and so I did it to myself. It doesn't look like it's going to fade anytime soon either." Dean pushed out and then closed his eyes, willing himself to keep his composure. "I have it as a reminder every day for what he did for me." The last part barely made it past his lips and all Ben could do was hug him.

"I'm sorry Dean, I really am. I didn't know that you two were so close. I thought he was just some hunter you knew before." Ben said frantically as Dean wiped away tears that had silently fallen.

"It's fine. Haven't spoken about him in forever." He said through the tears. "Now you know."

Ben nodded and they sat there until Jack cried and Dean had to give him his milk. "Should we carry on?" Dean asked Ben once Jack was sucking on a bottle, laying in Dean's arms.

Ben nodded and they all headed back inside the house to finish up, the guilt and pain that talking about Cas again threatening to overtake Dean again. He pushed it down hard until Jack was asleep and Ben had gone to shower and then he sat down in his room with his head in his hands and let it all wash over him again.

Cas, I miss you so much. Had to tell Ben about you and it hurt so bad. Felt like being in Hell again and I don't want to ever go back there again. It hurt to tell him what we went through. I was your best friend Cas and you left me. You just left me to fix everything here and to help Jack and I couldn't do it. I'm trying my best but it isn't good enough, I know that. Sam knows it. Eileen knows it and even Ben can tell that I'm not the best at this. Maybe it should've been me, I should've died and Jack could be safe with you. Just, I don't know what I'm doing. I miss you so much.

Dean's prayer trailed off as his sobs stopped. He let himself breathe and buried the hurt back deep down where it wouldn't overwhelm him any time soon. He washed his face in the sink in the kitchen and then set to work making dinner for them all, his chopping accompanying the sounds of Ben humming from the bathroom.