Author's note: I am sad. It is bad. It makes me mad, to feel so sad. But the story's at an end. Along the way I made some friends. I hope this proves to be a trend. And so this last bit I will send.
Plus a few bonus chapters. (Hey, that didn't rhyme! Yeah, well, YOU try to find a word that rhymes with "chapters" off the top of your head.)
Dean stopped in the bathroom to grab a towel for his waist, then went down the stairs to the kitchen. He didn't bother to turn on light; he knew the house like the back of his—
Wumpgh! He tripped over something huge and plastic in the middle of the living room floor.
Sirens wailed. Lights flashed. Dean kicked, spun, chopped—
"Hi there, Friend! Let's fight a fire. Whoop, whoop!"
His towel fell off. No matter. Let it lie. He was so going to gank this—whatever it was—back to wherever it came from—
"Oh. I see you found the firetruck." Bobby turned on the light and moved past him to the kitchen, still carrying the bottle of scotch. "Put some pants on, willya? You're making me sick, you freakin' exhibitionist."
Firetruck? He looked down. Oh. Yeah. Well… Dean picked up the towel. At least he'd found the Bobby he knew and loved.
He followed the older hunter into the kitchen, still staring at the firetruck. "What is going on here?" The truck winked at him with one of its headlights and waved its ladder. "Is that a cursed object? Want me to burn it? Where's the salt?"
"I love you! You're my friend. Let's put out a fire!" the truck chortled. "Whoop, whoop!"
"Nah." Bobby pulled three glasses out of the cupboard and put them onto the table with the bottle. "Not tonight, anyway. If you want to light it up in the morning, be my guest. In fact, I'll probably help. I loathe that thing. For obvious reasons."
Sam bounced down the stairs. "Here, Dee. Found you some jeans."
"Thanks." Dean snatched them from his brother's hand and slid them on. "'Bout time, Bitch."
"Jerk." Sam grinned and fell into a chair. He pulled the bottle to him and filled the glasses.
"What's got you all happy?"
"You." Sam lifted his glass. "To Dee. The best—and the worst—little big brother a guy ever had."
Dean's hackles rose. "Little big brother? Listen, just because I'm not as tall as your Sasquatch ass doesn't mean—"
"I'll drink to that. Oh, wait." Bobby held up a finger. "And to Ass. Where ever his feathery self might be. For services rendered faithfully and with great fortitude."
"With and without a cup," Sam added. "Mostly without."
"I'll drink to that." Crowley appeared out of nowhere. "Pour me a glass, will you, boys?"
"Gladly." Bobby pulled down another glass even as Dean leaped to his feet.
"Crowley! You bastard. What are you doing…here… Bobby? Why are you…?" He stared as the older man handed a glass of scotch to the King of Hell. "All right. I give up. What's going on?"
"Thank you, luv." The demon nodded his thanks to Bobby. "Now. Where were we? Oh, yes. And to Moose. The best driver I ever had. In fact, the only driver. And, the most patient brother in the known universe. And beyond."
"I'll drink to that," Sam cheered, and the three of them drank up.
"Ah!" sighed Bobby.
"Ah," said Crowley. "What kind of swill is this? What, did you distill this yourself, Singer? In your shed? Tastes like arse."
"Fuck off," Bobby said cheerfully, and topped off their glasses. "Come on, Dean-o. You haven't had a drink yet." He paused. "Wait. You want some duice?"
"What?" Dean stared at him. "What the fuck is-"
"Duice!" Cas appeared. "I'll have duice." He frowned. "As long as it's not made from prunes."
"I'll drink to that," Crowley announced.
"Oh, me, too." Sam nodded. "There's a few juiceboxes left in the fridge, Cas. Unless Bobby drank them."
"Fuck off." Bobby groused cheerfully. "Actually, I gave them to Melia when she and Annie stopped by to visit a few days ago—"
"Annie came to visit?" Sam lowered his glass and frowned. "You?"
"Well, yeah." Bobby nodded. "I fixed her car for her. Why? You got a problem with that?"
"No…I just…" Sam shrugged. "And Me-la."
Dean reached for his glass. His head was starting to hurt. "Who is Annie?"
"Oh! You don't remember?" Crowley grinned fiendishly. Predictably. "Fancy that." He tossed his head to get a piece of hair out of his eyes. "Annie is your brother's new squeeze. Who has, apparently, taken a fancy to that old geeze." He gestured to Bobby with his glass.
"What?" Dean frowned. "Why…where have I…could someone please explain to me what the hell is going on? Because none of what you're saying makes any sense." He paused, and turned to Crowley. "And what the hell happened to your hair? It's all poofy and…weren't you going bald?"
"Ah! I love this man!" Crowley leaned in and kissed his cheek, leaving a film of sulfur residue. "Another drink!"
Everyone cheered, except for Sam, who sat staring into the bottom of his glass with a broody expression. And there's the Sam I know and love, too. Dean was starting to feel better. Things were mostly normal. Except for the demon in the kitchen, who was…sharing a picture on his cellphone with Bobby. Okay, still weird. He heard something about "Jolly Green and his big-shoed friend" and "ganked that fecking hamburger clown", but the fact that the older hunter was practically snorking his scotch out of his nose at pics from the King of Hell was disturbing.
Dean wiped the sulfur from his cheek with the back of his hand and turned to look at Cas, who stood quietly beside him, rocking from heel to toe and back again in a very self-satisfied way. "Ah, Dee." The angel put his hand on the back of his neck. Dean tried to shake it off, but couldn't, so in the end he stood and glowered at him. "I feel—you, as an adult, again…I…oh, I love ya', man!" He gave him a wet kiss on the opposite cheek.
Gah! Dean wiped that cheek with the back of his other hand. "Could someone please explain…wait. What did you say? As an adult—again?"
"Ah, Cassie. You let the boy out of the bag." Crowley shook his finger at the angel.
"Shut up, Crowley," Sam muttered.
"Boy out of the…wait." Dean turned and looked at the fire truck, then took a few steps into the living room. It looked like Toys'R'Us had puked all over the Bobby's house. "What the…wait. Is that…hey. I know this guy." He bent and fished a big-booted firefighter out of a castle-shaped toybox. "It's Biwwy Bwaze…why are you guys laughing?"
Dean turned to glare into kitchen where everyone—except for Sam, who still looked wooby—seemed to be bent over double and red-faced with giggles. "All right. That's it. I'm going back to bed. When one of you assholes decides to talk something that makes sense, you know where to find me." He flung the firefighter into the box, turned and stomped up the stairs.
He crawled into the bed on the opposite side of the room. The one he didn't wake up in, the one he wasn't sharing with his gargantuan pervert of a brother. But first, he'd had to clean up all the clothes. The little boy clothes that Sam and Bobby had been dancing around with. And a yellow tiger bean bag cat that had been tossed to the side.
He wasn't sure why, exactly, but he was loathe to leave it lying upended on the floor. Instead, he put the cat on the edge of his pillow. It looked sad, or something. As if a stuffed animal could look anything.
Boy out of the bag? Adult again? Dean lay on his back and stared up at the ceiling. He was starting to have a sneaking and horrible suspicion that he knew exactly whose clothes those were, and who had played with the bean bag kitty and all the toys in the living room. When a whiff of sandalwood-scented air brushed his cheek with a whoosh and the flutter of wings, he didn't move. Even when the side of the bed tilted as Cas sat down beside him.
"Dean." The angel's voice stroked his ears just as his fingertips grazed his forehead. "Don't be troubled."
"Cas. We've talked about…aw, hell." Dean growled, but his heart wasn't in it. There was something soothing about Cas' touch right now. He tried to fight it, but—at the last second—gave in. "What happened?"
"You were a toddler. And now, you're not. That's all." Cas said. "You are yourself again. Not that you weren't yourself before, but…you were different."
"How old was I?" Dean winced. "Because I don't remember any of it."
"Very small. Sam said you were about eighteen months old." The angel lay down beside him and slipped his arm under his neck so that Dean's head rested on his shoulder.
Dean rallied. "What the hell are you doing?"
Cas held him tightly in his grip. "You liked it when I did this."
"Yeah, well right now I feel like I'm having nonconsensual cuddles." Worse, his body appeared like being smashed up against Cas' side even as Dean's mind shrieked nononono!
"And you always struggled at first. Because you don't like to sweep."
"Sweep? Is that what you perverts are calling it now? Forced cuddles with a toddler?"He tried not to inhaled the comforting scent that was Cas; it called to him in a visceral way that wasn't exactly sexual but made him feel…safe.
Feeling safe was definitely abnormal to a Winchester. When you felt safe, you got complacent. And then, you got dead. "What the hell is sweeping?"
"It's all right, Dean. I keep forgetting. You don't talk that way anymore." The angel sighed and combed his fingers through Dean's hair.
"You can stop that," he tried to tell Cas, but it felt so damned good; it made his scalp tingle. It reminded him of what his mother used to do when he was small to help him sleep… "Ah. Sweep. I get it." He closed his eyes. "I don't get it. How long was I…?"
"Six weeks. That's over a month!" He opened his eyes and sat up to stare at the angel lying beside him.
"It sometimes seemed to be a very long time," Cas answered. "Sometimes minutes passed like hours. But sometimes…it was very nice." He sighed. "Lie down, Dean. It's time to rest."
"I'm not a kid anymore, Cas. You don't have to tell me to lie down."
"Maybe not. But don't forget—you're still much younger than I am. No matter what size human you are, you will always be younger than me." He smiled. "And you do need your rest. We'll talk about it in the morning."
"Well, I want to talk about it right now." Dean fixed Cas with the angriest stare he could muster.
"I know you do. That's one of the things I love about you. You always know what you want and expect to get it. As an adult or a child." The angel rolled to his side and picked up the little stuffed cat; in a moment, it stretched on his palm and meowed in a rusty way. Then it hopped onto Dean's lap and purred as it rubbed against his stomach.
Cas watched it fondly, his blue eyes warm.
Dean frowned and raised his hands so he didn't touch it. Cats made him sneeze. "Um...Cas? Why is this happening?"
"That's your lovey. When I couldn't be there, or Sam, you had BooBoo. He helped you sleep, too."
The kitten made a brrup noise, curled up on his thigh and closed its eyes.
"What about Sam? Sam took care of me? It wasn't Bobby?" Dean was loathe to upset the tiny ball of fluff; he lay back down next to Cas and hoped the angel didn't go full-on perv with him no matter what the fan girls wanted. Because right now, he'd entered into a whole new realm of Winchester weirdness.
"You called him 'Dam'. He was very good with you, Dean. Even when he wanted to kill you, he didn't." Cas paused. "To be honest, your miniature self often made it perfectly clear why animals sometimes eat or abandon their young. There were times I wanted to smite you—before Sam bought me what is known as a 'protective cup', that is. After that, I wasn't as defensive."
"Sam?" Dean stared at the ceiling. "He's just a kid. He needs someone to care for him, half the time. Leave him alone for a few months and look what happens to him. He drinks demon blood. Goes dark side. Goes to law school!"
"Yes, he took care of you. With care and the type of love my father often bestowed upon us, before he left." Cas sighed. "I wonder if one of my brothers headbutted Him? That would explain much. Are you ready to sleep yet? Because I really need to go help Sam with a problem he has, but I wanted to be sure you were all right, first. You are—always—my first concern. Because we share a profound bond."
"Yeah, yeah. But Sam's got a problem? I'll go. Here. Take the—BooBoo." He pushed the kitten gently from his hip with the backs of his fingers.
"Oh! Yes. Okay." Cas made a motion and there was a stuffed kitty where a warm, breathing one had been.
Dean frowned. "Does that hurt him?"
"The only thing that can really hurt him is not having you to love him," Cas answered, and disappeared.
"Sam?" Dean padded into the kitchen with bare feet and no shirt, and Sam's first thought was, He's going to catch a chill. But his big brother was big again, and could fend for himself. Fuck it, if he wanted cold feet and shoulders. That was his problem now.
Still… "In the laundry basket. Behind you. Shirt and socks. Put them on. It's cold."
He thought about small, smooth, chubby 'tinky feets at bedtime and a lump rose in his throat. What the hell? Sam took a drink of scotch to wash it away but the burn barely touched the ball of tears making it hard for him to breathe.
"Cas said you have a problem?" Dean pulled some socks and a t-shirt out of the basket.
Sam snorted. Funny. His brother wasn't even an adult again for an hour and was already on full Sam Alert. "No. No problem." If you don't think the fact that I'm missing my toddler brother already, a problem. God, I'm such a freaking girl. Dean's right. Color me pink and call me Frances.
"Well, last I heard, Cas can't tell a lie, but you're like a rug, so give." His brother spun a chair around so he could lean his chest against the backrest and straddled it like a motorcycle.
Brum, Dammy. Do da motahcycle! He thought about little Dean balanced on his thigh and using his arms and hands like handbars. How Sam would make motorcycle noises and move his leg. Dean would hang on with his little hands, tip and topple back and forth, and pretend he was turning corners. Brrrrrrrum! Brrm!
He took another drink. "Nothing to give, Dean." Damn it.
"Is it about this Annie chick Bobby mentioned?" Dean's eyes narrowed. "She giving you trouble? 'Cause I'll go talk to her and—"
"And do what, Dean?" He frowned and swiped at his eye. "Tell her not to mess with your baby brother or else?"
"If I have to." Dean pursed his lips. "Who is she, anyway?"
"A friend. It doesn't matter. She and I have known we were doomed from the start. I just got my hopes up, is all, when it looked like you weren't going to become an adult again. But really…it's better this way." Sam sighed. "She deserves better." He reached for the bottle and topped off his glass. Okay. Maybe he was a bit upset because he'd kind of gotten used to the idea that they'd make a family together. The four of them. Sam, Annie, Amelia and Dean. He'd imagined it all the way back from Massachusetts.
Now, it would be him and Dean. Annie, Amelia and…well, someone else.
To be honest, he wouldn't mind too much if it was Bobby. A little grossed out because—well, Bobby. No one wanted to imagine a parent figure having sex. Especially when it was with someone you'd already slept with.
But at least with Bobby, he knew, Annie and Amelia would be taken care of, and loved. For all his faults, Bobby Singer was a righteous man—and a good father.
That didn't mean it didn't hurt, though. He realized—too late—that he loved Annie. Not just the idea of her, or the dream, but her. Sammy, you're always a day late and a dollar short. His real father's voice rang in ears. Sam lifted the glass to his mouth and shot back the contents. The cheap booze burned like a bitch and probably did just as much damage. His eyes watered. Or at least, that was the excuse he'd use if he started to cry. He made to fill his glass again.
"Whoa there, Mr. Wooby-pants. Drinking your problems away is my usual solution, not yours." Dean grabbed the bottle and glass from his reach and set it at his end of the table. "Let's be girls about this and talk."
Sam shook his head.
Easy there, Dee. That's a big boy glass. You don't want to spill it. Let me help you.
No Dam. I do it. I dwink it mybyself.
How about we do it together then. Here…
"Who are you and what have you done with my brother?" Sam tried to joke. But it felt weird. He tried another tack. "It's all right, Dean. Let's start with 'you don't have to police my alcohol intake'."
Dean harrumphed. "It makes me feel better. Humor me."
"God, Dee. I functioned just fine as a grownup while you weren't one. Don't start doing this to me already. I was changing your diapers just this morning."
His brother's eyes rounded. "Excuse me? Diapers? You're shitting me."
"No, I'm not. And I'll pass on the opportunity to make a joke about that. While you were… 'out', I was the one in charge, and I did just fine."
"That's what Cas said." Dean looked down at the table. "He said you did better than fine."
"I did!" Sam insisted, realizing as he said it that it was true. He'd been as good a father-brother as Dean ever had been. "Look. For six weeks, you were totally dependent on me. And I liked being your big brother for once. Give me a few days to get used to not having to worry about every little thing that you do." Give me a chance to get over being your dad. "I know how you feel, right now, Dee. I get it now. I need to take care of you as much as you feel like you have to take care of me. But neither one of us is little, anymore. We're adults, now. You're not my dad and I'm not your dad, either. I'm—I'm your brother. Can't we just act like brothers?"
Dean leaned and looked up at the ceiling, holding the chair back so that the muscles in his arms tightened and bulged. "I suppose. If it will make you happy, Frances."
"Okay." He leaned forward again. "Feels weird, but what the hell."
"So can I at least have the bottle back?" Sam reached to grab it.
Dean got there first. "Only if I can have some of it, bitch. Where's my glass?"
"I dunno." Sam paused, and then he smiled. "But I can get you a sippy cup."
Ah, Winchester Bro-love. Let's bathe in it for a moment.
Okay. If this were The Show, the story would end here. But I have a few things Dean needs to see. Bwahahahaha... Please feel free to leave a review/request for what you think Dean needs to see.