The little girl tugged on her mother's sleeve. It was a chilly day, in the early stages of autumn, and they were both wearing jackets.
"What is it, honey?" Lisa asked.
"Mommy, why is that man crying?" her daughter pointed across the street.
There were, in fact, two men. They were both tall, though the taller of the two was blonde and a little scruffy, clad in denim and wearing a plaid flannel. The other man was older by a few years, had dark hair and wore a tan trench coat over a black suit and a loose, blue tie, which he seemed to have put on backwards, looking like he could be coming home from work. They appeared to be waiting for something or someone. Lisa guessed by the way their body language that they were comfortable with one another, maybe old high school buddies who were catching up after years apart.
"Which one?" Lisa said.
"The prettier one who dresses kinda like daddy," she indicated the blonde.
Lisa flushed a little. He was rather handsome, in a tired kind of way that looked like he'd survived through hell and back, making him seem like he was older than he really was. There was something familiar about the tall blonde man with the solemn green eyes, and not just because his fashion sense was similar to her husband's. The man in the trench coat seemed familiar, too.
It was like the scruffy guy had stepped out of some long forgotten dream, hidden under a loose floorboard in the back of her mind. It was unnerving. Lisa looked away, no longer able to stare at the sad, handsome stranger who seemed so familiar.
Lisa grabbed her daughter's hand and walked briskly away.
"Come on, Deanna, we don't want to be late for Ben's game."
Lisa and Deanna walked out of the two men's sights nearly as soon as they appeared.
"Are they happy, Cas? Are Ben and Lisa happy here?" the blonde asked, tears running down his freckled face. He didn't dare ask if they were happier without him in their lives, though that was what he was really thinking.
"Yes, Dean, I believe they are very happy here." the shorter of the two, Cas, answered.
He wanted to see his ex again, ask her so many questions about her new life, about Ben's life, about her new husband and daughter. Deanna, he thought she had called the little girl. Even if he did come up to Lisa, say hello, she would never recognise him. Even if she did, she would only remember Dean as the guy who had accidentally run her off the road, not as... what they had been. The same way his almost-step-son would see him, too.
He hadn't planned on getting so emotional about it, not really, but when Castiel had offered to take him anywhere, he couldn't resist the chance to see Lisa and Ben one more time.
Cas had taken him to see Ben first.
Ben had been at the skate park with a few of his friends, laughing and hanging out. Dean had watched him with a bittersweet smile on his face, as the young man he had considered his son attempted a few skate tricks, none of which Dean could name. Ben failed miserably nine times out of ten, his friends goading and cajoling him as he did so, but it made Dean happy to see him none the less.
He had been tempted to give been a few pointers, though he had never owned a skateboard, but he did know a thing or two about balance. He had resisted the urge and told Cas he wanted to get some lunch at the local diner before dropping in on Lisa.
After numbly picking at a piece of cherry pie and sipping a cup of coffee, he told Castiel he was ready.
Seeing her again was what broke him. Dean did not consider himself to be the crying type and hated showing off his weaker side in front of anyone, but seeing Lisa with her littledaughter, who was probably no older than three, made him lose it.
Dean wasn't sure if they were tears of joy or sorrow, only that he was glad Sammy wasn't here to see him do it. Cas stood beside him stoically, trench coat flapping in the breeze like Batman's cape, saying not a word. For that, he was grateful. If Sam had come along, he probably would've insisted on some dumbass chick flick moment, which was the last thing Dean needed or wanted. Cas wasn't like that. He wasn't completely emotionless, but he still didn't understand human emotions very well and therefore kept his distance unless called upon.
Dean and Castiel watched Lisa and her daughter from afar on their walk around the neighborhood until Lisa had made eye contact with Dean from across the street, a dim flicker of recognition in her brown eyes. Shocked, Lisa'd grabbed her daughter and walked away, calling her Deanna and saying something about "Ben's game".
He'd gotten his hopes up, expected something more than he should have.
You'd think in his line of business, Dean would know better than that by now, that all the optimism would've left him. Dean Winchester was a fool that way.
Deanna. The girl's name echoed inside his head. Maybe, just maybe, Lisa had remembered him in some small way, enough to name her new kid who she'd had with her new husband after him. Or maybe she'd picked Deanna at random. Maybe it was an old family name. Maybe...
Shaking himself out of his stupor, Dean said "C'mon, Cas. Let's go."
Castiel obliged, grabbing the taller man above the forearm and they disappeared in the blink of a eye.
It was as though they had never been there at all.