(see page 28, Play It Again Sam for reference)

Bobby woke with a start and sat up. His chest hurt. For a moment, he wondered if this was it—The End—but then he realized it was just gas.

More like heartburn.


He swung his feet to the floor, caught between happiness at the ability to feel the tile against his bare soles and annoyance at the chill that raced up his legs.

Made him need to piss.

"Balls!" He stood up. It was a damn pain in the ass to get old. Worse, he'd had no idea when it had happened. One minute, he was a young buck ready for anything, the next, he was an old fart who creaked when he walked and who needed to wear glasses to read an incantation.

If he could remember where he'd left them.

"Ow. Ow, ow, ow…" Even worse (if there could be a worse) was that his entire skeletal system locked up on him whenever he was still, and it took forever to get mobile again without wincing. He figured he would have had arthritis if he'd lived a normal life, but since he'd been a Hunter—hell, he was lucky he could still move.

Case in point. No wheelchair. Not anymore.

He used the WC in the dark, careful to check first to be sure the lid was up. Since the Winchester and the wee-chester had taken up residence, Sam had become obsessive about making sure the lid was locked down tight. Of course, it would have been nice if he'd notified Bobby before putting the childproofer on the thing; that first night had resulted in an ugly and quite messy incident.

Of course, a nightlight would have helped, too. But both he and Sam were a bit squeamish about the night-time shadows it cast. And even though he knew his house was warded, salted and blessed to infinity and back again, it didn't stop either of them from getting a bit nervous whenever they turned and noticed a shape looming up from behind the tub.

That, too, had resulted in an ugly and messy incident—twice. Bobby was kind of glad he had an angel in his pocket, because it was the only way he could be positive the resulting sprays of his and Sam's startled urine had been totally removed from the ceiling, walls, and under the linoleum. Anyhow, they'd nixed the night-light and now both of them preferred to pee in the dark.

After checking the lid.

To be honest, he thought Sam was going a bit far with the whole Dean-is-a-toddler thing. After all, he wouldn't be one forever. Hopefully. (Because if he was, Sam was going to have to find new digs. He loved the little tyke, of course, just as much as he'd ever loved the boy when he was grown the first time. But still—having a kid in the house was a drain and a half. He was too old for it.

"Balls." Bobby finally finished what he'd gone into the room to do, with a few extra, precautionary tries at the end. One thing they never told you was that when you got to be his age, sometimes the plumbing appeared empty when it was only taking a break. And he sure as hell wasn't ready for diapers yet.

He shook off, finally, and flushed, then fumbled to drop the lid and lock it up tight. Sam was as nervous as an old hen when it came to his little—big—whatever—brother. Came from doing too much research. He'd even found the boy asleep on the couch the day before with one of those damned "What to Expect" books tented on his chest. The Toddler Years.

Huh. As far as he could tell, there wasn't any expecting anything but chaos when there was a toddler involved. And that was all you needed to know. Especially if the toddler in question was Dean Winchester, because that boy had more tricks up his sleeve then Carter had pessaries.

Bobby belched as stomach acid squelched up into this throat. He was out of antacids, thanks to Sam's cooking. Of course, he wasn't about to tell the boy that he couldn't handle a nice spicy vegetarian chili. Hell, no. He'd just gulped them down in private when he was distracted. But then, he hadn't gotten to the store for more because he'd crashed in his chair in front of the boob tube.

He'd babysat for the tyke while Sam did the dishes. He'd taken him outside and then spent forty-five minutes bending and squatting to look at bugs, and then another twenty of chasing the kid while he looked for a stick to smash said bugs. Fortunately—for the bugs—Bobby had been able to distract little Dean with a ride on the tire swing Castiel had hung on a tree for him.

Sam had asked the angel to make it safe, so apparently, there was some kind of anti-tumble shield on the thing that kept the kid in place. Wonderful, except that meant you had to push him forever because he felt so safe, he never wanted to get off.

"Balls." Bobby started down the stairs to the kitchen. A glass of milk would help, he hoped. Tonight, the burn seemed especially uncomfortable, maybe because he was so tired. He shuffled through the house to the kitchen, feeling the ache in his hips and spine, and sighing because his eyes were so heavy. He never used to get so tired. When he was younger, he could stay up all night and then the next day and never—

"Hello, Friend! Let's fight a fire! Whoop! Whoop!"

"Holy mother of ever loving shit!" Bobby screamed and fell back against his desk. Books toppled to the floor, and rolled sheets of ancient parchment scattered everywhere. And his marble paperweight—a cherished gift from Karen—tumbled off the desk to land on his big toe.

"Son of bitch! BALLS!" Bobby yelped, and began hopping through the dark living room on one foot.

Bang! His good foot smashed into something hard and unexpected. As Bobby thudded to the floor, lights began to flash, and a siren went off.

"Where's the fire, pal? Let's play!" said the toy firetruck Sam had found for Dean at a yard sale.

"Balls," Bobby said, and burped. The kid had to grow up and quick. Because Bobby couldn't take much more of Toddler Dean and his Giant, Overenthusiastic, Little Brother.