Thank you guys for sticking around to read the second part of this. I had so much fun writing it! I'm so sorry it took forever to post! Life got in the way, unfortunately. Huge thank you to ispiltthemilk and sweetkiwi604 for all of their help and support! Also, head on over to wandertogondor's page to check out our sisfic one shot we did :)
I hope you all enjoy this chapter! Let me know what you thought of it :)
The sun was starting its decent into the ground and shades of pink and orange were emerging all around, signaling only a couple more hours of daylight. The parent-teacher conference and Dean and Emily's ice cream pit stop had lasted long enough that Sam was already home from work. As Dean turned onto the street, he looked in his rearview mirror and couldn't help but laugh. The remnants of chocolate framed the corners of his niece's mouth. He had never seen anyone devour an ice cream cone as fast as she had. He made a mental note to treat her to sweets more often, because, judging by her ear-to-ear grin, Sam was clearly going heavy on the fruits and veggies and less on the munchies.
Sam heard the unmistakable roar of the impala as it pulled up beside the curb in front of the house. The small, off-white, two story house stood beside a one car garage. In front of the porch, short bushes were strategically interchanged with bright colored flowers, creating a welcoming pattern. Green grass filled the large space between the house and the road, allowing for lots of room for Emily to play. The paved driveway led up to the garage where a clutter of toys was stored off to the side. "Home sweet home!" Dean exclaimed, getting out of the car and opening up the back door for her.
Emily scooted across the seat and slid out of the car. Before Dean had a chance to say anything else to her, he heard the front door of the house creak open, and Emily took off running through the grass toward the porch. Seeing his daughter coming at him, Sam hopped down the two remaining steps on the porch and stretched out his arms toward her.
Dean couldn't help but watch as an ecstatic Emily threw herself in her father's arms, wrapping her own around his neck in a tight hug. There was a brief pause as Sam gave her a tight squeeze back, like he hadn't hugged her in days, even though it had only been 12 hours. That was the best feeling—one of being missed as well as being loved.
However, Dean's smile was short lived. Emily pulled back out of the hug, allowing Sam to see her face closely for the first time. Sam's eyes instantly narrowed into a deep scowl and Dean cringed. Even though Dean was out by the road, the grimace on his face spoke louder than ever. There was no hiding the ice cream now, so Dean started his walk up shame up to the house.
"Really, Dean?" Sam frowned in annoyance once his brother was standing in front of him. "A sugar high at this hour?" He looked up at the sky to emphasize his point. The blue sky was still slowly fading into hues of swirling orange and red as the sunset neared. Dean just shrugged his shoulders, indifferent.
Emily started to squirm in his hold, eager to be put down. "I wanna ride my bike," she announced, pointing over to the small pink tricycle sitting up against the house over by the garage. Knowing he had no other choice but to let the sugar run its course, Sam put her down and she took off running toward her bike.
"There's a reason why kids shouldn't have ice cream after 7:00," Sam stated flatly. Emily grunted as she struggled to pull her bike out and turn it around to ride. Finally she managed to do it and took off down the driveway.
"I know," Dean started, flashing a cheeky smile. "Same reason why I never gave your sorry ass any ice cream. I never wanted to deal with…that," he said motioning toward Emily, who had just turned around at the end of the driveway and was fervently peddling her way back up. Sam stared at his brother in disbelief at his overall lack of sympathy and concern. "What? She's not my problem anymore. You're here now." He smirked devilishly, patting him on the shoulder.
Dean sidestepped a dumbfounded Sam and went up on the porch to grab one of the pale green folding lawn chairs. The brothers didn't even have to say what they were going to do; they still had that relationship where a look explained what they were thinking. Dean: I'll watch Emily and Sam: I'll grab us beers then. And without exchanging a single word, Dean took his chair out into the grass, sitting halfway between the house and the driveway as Emily kept zooming up and down the driveway. Moments later, Sam emerged from the house, two beers in hand. He grabbed the other lawn chair and made his way out in the grass.
"Guess I'll have to send you to bed without any pie then," Sam quipped, setting up his chair beside his brother's and tossing a beer at him. He was still slightly perturbed at the sugar high, but there was no point in fighting with a brother whose main goal in life had always been to pick on him.
Dean face fell, suddenly realizing that Sam really did hold the power of the pie. After his momentary worry passed, he responded half threateningly, "You wouldn't dare." He continued to stare his little brother down as he cracked open the beer and took a swig.
"Did you bring the school papers?" Sam countered.
"Yes!" Dean answered with exasperation. "They're sitting in the car, so no need to hold the pie hostage," he argued.
"Fine then. How did everything all go?" Sam relented. He was anxious to see the progress reports, but he knew it could wait. For now, he was just going to enjoy some conversation and banter.
"Well, you neglected to tell me that Emily's teacher was a total babe," he smiled smugly.
"No…no…," Sam stuttered in disbelief. "Tell me you didn't hit on her!" Cue Dean's signature grin. "Come on, man! Seriously?" Sam grunted.
"Sammy, it's not my fault some of us just got this natural charm," he mocked, pointing to himself. Dean reached into his pocket and flashed the small piece of paper in Sam's face, showing him the digits he scored at the meeting.
Sam's jaw became rigid in annoyance and he was going to make some retort, but his daughter interrupted their conversation. "Uncle De, look!" she yelled, pausing briefly to wait for his full attention. Satisfied that he'd annoyed Sam, Dean tucked the slip of paper safely in his pocked before turning his glance over to her, seeing her silly grin. "I'm as fast as the 'pala!" she cheered.
"It's pronounced IMpa…," Dean started to correct, but gave up as he was cut off by her making loud vroom vroom sounds. She clearly wasn't interested in what he had to say. "You really need to fix her," Dean grumbled. "She's disgracing my baby."
"Oh, sorry. Guess she doesn't realize she has an aunt," Sam joked. Dean just rolled his eyes at his brother's 'nonsense'. He would just never understand their deep bond.
They sat in a comfortable silence, watching Emily burn off her more energy going around in circles.
"So the guestroom is still there for you…," Sam trailed off, secretly wanting to know how long he was going to be in town for. He would be the last to admit it out loud, but he enjoyed having his big brother visit. After all they had been through together and being almost inseparable for many years, it was nice having him around. Dean was the only family he had left and when he was around it just felt like home to him. And after months without visiting, he wasn't prepared for this visit to end so quickly.
"Thankya, Sam, but, uh, I'm just passing through. Gotta head out tonight so I can get a jump on a case a few states over in the morning," Dean explained, keeping his gaze forward. He couldn't bear to look at Sam because he knew exactly what would be staring back at him: those same disappointed, sad puppy dog eyes that stared back at him every other time he had said he was leaving shortly.
"Oh," Sam said softly. "It's just…I know Emily was looking forward to spending some more time with you." That wasn't a lie at all, she always looked forward to her uncle's visits, but they both knew how to read between the lines on this one.
"I'll be back though," Dean assured. It was true; he would eventually stop back by for another visit. He just had no idea how soon that would be.
"Yeah," Sam replied with audible disappointment.
Emily left her bike carelessly discarded in the grass and ran up to them. "Daddy, I wanna color with the chalk," she declared.
Dean watched the staring match between father and daughter. Sam's disapproving gaze met Emily's stubborn one. As his turned sterner, hers became more pouty, before she finally relented and stormed back over to her bike. She hopped on and began to slowly ride it up to its 'parking spot' beside the house. Dean sat bewildered at the power behind Sam's expressions. The puppy dog eyes weren't the only facial expression power he had acquired.
After taking in the whole situation that unfolded in front of him, Dean thought out loud, "You're too strict with her."
"What are you talking about?" Sam demanded, taken off guard by his comment.
"God forbid she doesn't pick up a toy today because then surely she'll be out smoking weed behind the school parking lot by tomorrow," he mocked relentlessly.
"It's called learning to be responsible and appreciate the stuff she has," Sam explained, as if it was obvious. He wanted her to value what she did have, because he knew what it was like to grow up not having any of it.
"Yeah, but still. She's a kid," Dean countered. Dean didn't see it as learning to appreciate things, he saw Sam being a drill sergeant, demanding obedience from his daughter. And that was something he'd tried to protect Sam from growing up.
"Oh, you're giving fatherly advice now? And how many kids have you raised?" Sam remarked, slightly unnerved by his judgments.
"Oh yeah? Well I raised…," he paused. You was what he wanted to say. But that was a chick flick moment just waiting to happen. His brief hesitation spoke louder than the actual would-be word, and Sam got the message anyway. They saw this issue from two very different perspectives, but it equally struck a cord with them. Sam suddenly regretted having been so short with him. Trying to steer away from feelings, Dean opted to finish, "Not the point, Sammy, but don't you come crying to me when she's 15 and all OCD about things being out of place." His ultimate chick-flick defense mechanism: sarcasm.
Sam flashed Dean his signature bitch face as he saw Emily skipping back toward them. "You want that pie or not?" he asked his brother.
Dean's eyes instantly lit up at the mention of his precious food. "Well I sure as hell earned it!" he said triumphantly.
"UUUUMMMMM!" Emily gasped as she stood in front of the men. "You said a bad word!" she announced, placing her hands on her hips. "Time out for you, mister Uncle Dean," she finished, accusingly pointing a finger at him.
Sam couldn't help but stifle a laugh. "You're right, Em. Let's leave big bad Uncle Dean out here alone in time out, so he can think about what he did." Sam reached out to grab her hand as they took off toward the house to retrieve the pie and sidewalk chalk. Sam smirked as he looked back at Dean over his shoulder, but was rudely greeted by Dean throwing up his middle finger and waving it at him in playful annoyance.
"Daddy, what's so funny?" she asked, tugging at Sam's grasp in an attempt to turn fully around. The smirk disappeared from his face as he quickly intercepted his daughter's gaze by scooping her up and carrying her effortlessly under his arm. Her giggles filled the humid summer air. The last thing Sam needed was to explain to his daughter what that finger meant.
Dean turned back around in his chair and slouched down, drawing his gaze upwards. The sky had become a darker shade of burnt orange as the sun neared the horizon. He smiled at hearing more of Emily's laughter. Sure he'd given Sam a hard time, but that's what brothers were for. They wouldn't be family if they didn't constantly speak their minds with one another. But in between all the joking and poking fun, there was one simple fact: Dean was happy for Sam. Life had taken a few curves and even some U-turns, but in the end Sam was able to have exactly what he had always dreamt of—a career and a family. And although he wasn't able to share it with his wife Sarah anymore, at least he had his daughter by his side. And if Dean's life was miserable or not didn't matter one bit because Sam's happiness was enough—it was all that ever mattered to him anyway.
The screen door slammed shut, pulling Dean out of his thoughts. He looked over his shoulder and saw Emily sprinting across the grass to the black pavement as a white plastic container swung in her grasp. She haphazardly dumped the chalk out in a pile beside her. Getting right down to business, she picked up a yellow one and meticulously began her artwork.
Sam came over carrying a square box with a small, blue plate balancing on top of it. Dean instantly noticed that the plate only had a single slice of pie and two forks sitting on either side of it.
"Does this look like a date to you?" he griped, nodding toward the plate and two forks.
"Seems like someone has sharing issues," Sam mocked as he took his seat again.
"Sam there's a lot of crap I'd share, but there is no way in he-," Dean stopped mid-word as Sam raised his eyebrows, silently asking if he really wanted to go through that again. Dean grumbled as he looked over at Emily sitting within earshot. He lowered his voice, "Fine. There's no way in purgatory I'm sharing my pie with you!"
Sam chuckled as he handed Dean a fork and lifted the plate off the box. "I know. This piece is for me," he clarified. Dean waited for some further explanation, but none was necessary because Sam handed over the square box he'd brought out.
Dean opened it and felt elated. Sam had taken out a single slice for himself and left Dean the rest of the pie. "Well I guess you do know how to properly share," he joked. Not wasting another moment, he dug his fork in and took a savory bite, slowly chewing to enjoy every flavor. "Apple pie…Oh Sammy, you shouldn't have," he mumbled half joking, with his mouth full. He was grinning like a child on Christmas Day.
They each continued to enjoy their portion of pie while discussing Dean's recent hunts and escapades. They made sure to spell out any supernatural word, because with their bad luck, Emily would overhear a random word and then start asking what wendigos or shapeshifters were. That was a conversation Sam never planned to have with her. It was something he and his wife had decided long ago.
About a half an hour had passed and Dean finally gave up on his quest to finish the entire pie. To both his and Sam's astonishment, there wasn't any room left in his stomach to cram more in. But Dean made sure Sam understood it was his and he was taking the rest with him.
Emily stood up and looked down at her masterpiece drawing on the driveway, clearly proud of her work. She ran over to the brothers, excited to share it with them, however when she was standing in front of Dean, she was immediately distracted. "Pie!" she said, captivated by the open box that was sitting on his lap. "Can I try it?" she begged, her puppy dog eyes trying to work their full effect on her uncle.
Before he had a chance to respond, Sam chimed in, "No, peanut, no more sugar for you tonight." She immediately stuck out her bottom lip. Sam had learned to look right past the pouty face. That face might work on others, but he had become immune to it. He checked his watch and realized it was close to 9 o'clock. "Actually, I think it's time for this little girl to go to bed," he announced.
As an instinctive reflex to hearing those words, Emily crossed her arms over her chest and furrowed her eyebrow in immediate protest. "No," she simply stated. "It's not bedtime."
"Yes it is, Em. Past your bedtime in fact," Sam said calmly, knowing that reasoning with a 6 year old was always a process.
"No! I wanna keep coloring," she argued, even though she had already finished. She couldn't give in to her father so easily.
"How about you color more in the morning?" he countered.
"At the park?...with Uncle Dean too?" she added.
"We'll see," Sam responded, not wanting to make promises he knew he wouldn't be able to keep. He didn't have the heart to tell her just yet that he was leaving tonight. She stared at Sam, not saying anything before she finally accepted his answer. She huffed in defeat and stomped her way over to the chalk she'd left scattered all over. Plopping down on the ground, she began to pick up the chalk piece-by-piece.
"Kid drives a hard bargain," Dean joked.
"It's an uphill battle everyday," Sam sighed, sitting back in his chair, alluding to the fact that this was a constant battle that never seemed to end. Just the thought of the upcoming fight to actually get her to go inside and to bed exhausted him.
"Well you know who she gets that from?" Dean asked rhetorically.
"Shuddup," Sam muttered dryly. He knew it. He had been the exact same way when he was a kid. Dean had told him that the bargaining and arguing skills he had as a kid were what made him the great lawyer that he was today.
"Just sayin', Sammy. What goes around comes around," he joked, playfully punching his brother's arm.
"Yeah, yeah," Sam grumbled under his breath, smiling at the irony.
Emily had obediently put all the pieces of chalk in the container. She put the lid on and placed it beside her before turning her back to them, hoping her dad and uncle wouldn't notice she was still there and not in bed.
Her invisibility was short lived. "Emily…," Sam warned in a low tone. Her shoulders fell forward as she dramatically crossed her arms in rebellion. Sam rubbed his hand down his face, bracing himself for the oncoming storm.
Dean couldn't help but notice the amount of fatigue spread across his brother's face at that precise moment. Patience was slowly fading away, even though they both knew that some day she was going to be mad that she didn't have enough time to sleep.
Sam slowly stood up, dreading what was coming, but Dean suddenly got up and put his hand out in front of Sam, motioning him to stay. "I got this one, bitch." Not waiting for a response, Dean took off toward his sulking little niece.
Sam slouched back down in his chair, both in awe and relieved at what just happened. "Jerk," he affectionately murmured under his breath.
"Whatcha doin', midget?" Dean casually asked as he sat down beside her.
"I'm not doing anything. I'm mad," she stated matter-of-factly, refusing to look at him.
"Well I was hoping you wouldn't be mad so you could tell me about this awesome picture you drew." He pointed to the scribbles in front of him. "And then we'd go upstairs so I can read you some stories." No response. "Or I can just go by myself and leave you all alone."
At the thought of missing an opportunity with her uncle, she immediately snapped out of her soap opera drama. "I wanna go with you!" she answered quietly.
"Ah, that's good because I want you to come too," he began. "But first, tell me about your Picasso."
She looked up at him, perplexed. "It's not a Pac…pici…that," she stumbled over the word before giving up. "It's a picture of my family."
"Oh?" Dean encouraged her to continue. His eyes turned and for the first time he really saw the picture drawn out in front of him. He focused on her explanation and saw how the shapes took form. There were three stick figures with the same green eyes and circular red lips. They were only distinguishable by their hair and height. One with short brown hair spiked up in all directions and another with chin length brown hair. And in the middle, a short figure with long brown hair and a yellow triangle dress. He looked warmheartedly at how she had written their names above each, succeeding in only spelling her own name correctly. She had relied solely on sounding the others out: Dadde, Emily, Unkl Dede. He was momentarily taken back when he saw what she wrote for him. It had been years since she had called him "DeeDee". It had come about long ago when she was first learning to talk. She had learned "Dada" and "Mama", so she logically followed the same pattern and made him known as "Deedee". The name that he had once despised and so vigorously tried to correct every time she said it now carried a new meaning for him. Seeing it there brought back all kinds of tender memories that he had tucked away in the back of his mind.
"See? There's daddy and me and you!" she pointed to each figure proudly. "I wroted 'Uncle DeeDee'. It's funny cuz you say I can't say it never again. But I wroted it, not said it," she giggled at her cleverness.
Dean suppressed a laugh, not wanting to point out that she had, in fact, said the name. "You think that's all funny?" he accused, trying to keep a straight face. "I'll show you funny!" He swiftly stood up, grabbing Emily along the way and tossing her up in the air. She squealed in delight as he caught her and gently threw her over his shoulder and started walking to the house.
"Night night, Daddy!" she waved back at Sam as she continued to laugh. Sam was overjoyed that Dean managed to get her inside without even a single tear shed.
Dean carried her upstairs and entered her room that had bright yellow walls and gray curtains draped over the windows. All her toys and stuffed animals were neatly put away along the back wall. He tossed her down on top of her pink and purple polka dot comforter. "Okay, squirt, you know the drill," he stated.
"'Kay," she replied simply. Without even so much as protesting, Emily rolled off the bed and grabbed her pajamas out of the dresser. She made her way to the bathroom across the hall to change clothes and brush her teeth. In the meantime, Dean browsed over her collection of books. The dark brown bookcase was overflowing with them, not to his surprise. Books, books, books. Sam was always about the books. He turned his head sideways, scanning the titles for something that wouldn't be torture to read through.
And there it was. Green Eggs and Ham. Dean smiled fondly as he slowly pulled out the book and gently rubbed his hand over the worn and faded cover, in awe at its resemblance to a book he had once read. He anxiously opened the inside cover and saw a barely legible "Sammy" that his little brother had written so many years ago. He couldn't believe this book had actually made it. It was the only one to survive their childhood and then had been stored away in on of their dad's lock ups many decades ago. He was shocked Sam had managed to even find it and that John hadn't thrown it out. But more importantly, how had he missed it all the other times he'd grabbed books off this very shelf?
"Look Uncle Dean!" Emily announced, ripping Dean away from his trip down memory lane. She twirled around, showing off her blue top with the Batman logo plastered in the center, a gift he'd given her last year, and her bright pink pajama bottoms, that he most definitely had not bought her. "I'm Batman!" she exclaimed as she leaped at him. Every time Dean came, she made sure to put on her superhero pajamas.
He wrapped his free arm around her as she crashed into his chest. "You're a little…uh, superhero princess," he laughed.
"Daddy says I'm too big for the Batman pants," she sulked. She had grown so much in the last year that it was only a matter of time before she outgrew the shirt too.
Dean stood up and carried her over to the bed. "Well then, I'll have to make sure to get you a new one. Can't have you being only half a superhero, now can we?" In reality, the sight of Batman next to something called a Hello Kitty bottom repulsed him.
Emily settled herself into bed and Dean pulled the purple covers over her, before taking his own seat beside her up against the headboard. He started reading the oh-so-familiar book, surprised at how easily the once memorized words came flowing back to him. As he got further into the book, Emily would snuggle up closer and closer to his side and then finally she couldn't hold her eyes open any longer and started to drift off.
Dean finished the book and gently laid it down on the nightstand beside him. He carefully got up, not wanting to wake her. Suddenly sensing that he was no longer by her side, she rustled in the sheets, turning to look up at him, whose figure was only illuminated by the soft light given off by the lamp in the corner. "De'n…?" she murmured in a hushed tone.
He bent down and brushed his hand affectionately through her hair. "Goodnight, Em," he whispered softly.
"Uncle De, are you gonna be here in the morning?" she mumbled, but before he could respond, she continued. "Cuz you gots to go to the park with us." Emily managed to open her eyes and looked up at him, half-asleep but still grinning and eagerly awaiting his response.
Dean paused for a brief moment and he thought back to the drawing out there on the driveway. His niece's hopeful green eyes bore into him. And suddenly the obligation he felt to his job melted away. For once he wanted to make his decision based on what he wanted to do, not what he felt he had to do. Somehow he had lost his priorities along the way over the past few years. But not anymore. Because from now on, he was going to choose family over the job like he used to. How it should be.
He leaned down and gently kissed Emily on the forehead before whispering, "I wouldn't miss it for anything."