Fic: Family, Faith & Certitude (ch 5 of 7)
November 17th, 2007 (10:19 am)
where i am: still here
how i am: cheerful
accompanied by: R.E.M. - Everybody Hurts
where i am: still here
how i am: cheerful
accompanied by: R.E.M. - Everybody Hurts
Summary: Bobby POV. Dean gets whomped, Sammy gets protective, John gets bad-ass and Bobby gets a shot at setting something right. Hurt/comfort, angst in spades. Chapter 5 of 7 in total.
Rating: PG13, T (harsh language)
Wordcount: approx. 12,000
Pairing/Characters: Genfic, no pairings. Bobby Singer, Dean, Sam & John Winchester
Spoilers: Minor, none beyond 2.22
Spoilers: Minor, none beyond 2.22
Disclaimers: See my profile page
A/N: See Chapter 1 for author's notes
Family, Faith & Certitude
by May Robinson
"Nice bed-time story there, Uncle Bobby." Despite looking and sounding like shit, apparently Dean still had just enough energy to mock his elders. Kid had to be exhausted, though.
His eyes were thankfully clearer now. Clear enough to twinkle even. "You gonna tuck me in now too?"
"Hey, I'm just tellin' it like I saw it, kid."
Okay, so maybe Bobby'd embellished it some. Not all that much though, considering, which was remarkable in its own right. Keeping his voice down for the sake of Ellen, who'd just turned in, and the youngest Winchester he hoped was asleep down the hall, Bobby still managed to sound affronted. "What? You think I'm exaggeratin'?"
"Oh, yeah." The kid replied, failing to keep a smile from quirking his lips. "Except for the part where I decked that dude. I totally dropped him with one punch."
Slapping his hands on his thighs, Bobby leaned forward in the chair he'd pushed up next to the kid lying on his couch, made to get up. "That's it, I gotta go wake Sam. We're takin' you to the hospital."
Alarmed, Dean reached out, snagging Bobby's wrist. "What? Hold on a second! What the hell for?"
"That concussion's worse than we thought." Bobby was working awful hard at keeping a straight face. "It was two punches, Dean. I saw it with my own two eyes. You must be gettin' delusional."
"Oh, fuck you, Singer." Crossing his arms over his chest, the kid sunk back into the couch in an exaggerated huff.
Dean looked midway between irritated and amused and Bobby had to congratulate himself for pulling one over on the kid. It didn't happen too often. Mind you, if it was always gonna take a demon hurling him head-first into a tombstone to knock Dean even remotely off his game, Bobby was willing to forgo any future victories.
The memory of Dean's knees buckling as he passed out, just after tossing the Colt into the trunk of the Impala, sent an involuntary shudder along Bobby's spine. Lord knew he'd had just about all he could take of watching John's boys fall.
Sobering further, as memories taunted him of everything that had happened from the moment a frantic Dean had called to say Sam'd disappeared, Bobby breathed out a too damn tired sigh.
The warmth and strength in the grip that suddenly encircled his wrist brought Bobby out of his painful reverie. Between the concern ringing in Dean's voice and his all too expressive eyes though, the shame Bobby felt at that moment damn near swallowed him whole.
After all, the kid'd just had his little brother snatched out from under his nose -- by the demon no less, witnessed that brother's murder, sold his soul in return for a year long death sentence straight into hell, and then watched his dad slip away for the second time in less than a year.
And he was worried about Bobby.
Christ, that was all too many kinds of fucked up.
"I'm sorry, kid." And wasn't that just the understatement of the year?
Dean shrugged his shoulders and then, God love him, came up with another cocky little smirk. "Hey, no, I'm sorry. I had no idea you were this sensitive. Next time I won't be so hard on you."
Bobby couldn't help but laugh. "Smart-ass little shit."
Dean outright beamed at that.
Collecting himself, Bobby returned to the mission at hand. Dean was a captive audience and Bobby was determined to take advantage of the situation and see if he could make some headway with, well, with the kid's head.
"Now, as I was sayin'. . . It was your daddy that cold-cocked that Dan fella." Before Dean could protest again, Bobby cut him off. "Uh, uh. This is my story to tell, so you just sit there and shut your cake-hole." Damn, did Bobby feel bad about Sam missing that.
"Fine," Dean sulked. "Pick on the wounded house-guest."
"My pleasure, kid." Bobby threw back, then picked up where he left off. "I'll tell ya though. It was watching John line up that asshole and pull his .45 on him that was truly worth the price of admission."
If anything, Dean's eyes got bigger than the first time Bobby'd recounted that part of the tale. "So Dad really full on Rambo'd that dude?"
"Yup. But with a whole lot 'a Buford Pusser thrown in to boot."
"No, shit?" Some sorely lacking color warmed Dean's cheeks then, and Bobby couldn't help but feel the satisfaction of being responsible for it. Dean looked up at Bobby, the wonder reflecting in those eyes reminding him of the little boy he'd let loose in his scrap-yard with some tools and his dogs so many years ago. Genuine awe permeated Dean's words when he said, "I always thought Sam made that part up."
Bobby understood where the kid was coming from. John pulling a gun on a man -- a decidedly human man -- in front of a crowd did seem pretty extreme. Even for him. Then again. . .
"What? You really think that's a stretch for your old man?" Bobby raised an incredulous eyebrow, then looked pointedly at Dean. "Am I the only one here who just watched him climb out the gates of hell?"
Bobby actually saw the rush of tears fill Dean's eyes and instantly regretted his tone. The boy held them back though and, instead of the heartache he was obviously feeling, it was pride and pure devotion that showed itself when he softly spoke. "Touché, Bobby."
"Damn straight." Clearing his throat from the lump that was doing its damnedest to close it, Bobby pushed onward. "So, what do you remember about that night?"
Dean settled back into the couch, resting against the pile of pillows and bedclothes that Ellen had fussed over for too damn long. His expression growing thoughtful, it took a minute or two for Dean to answer, and Bobby was a bit surprised when the kid's lips quirked up again. Laughing lightly, he started. "I remember I could do no wrong with a cue stick. I guess it just rubbed that guy the wrong way though, huh? He came at me and clipped me while I was setting up a shot." A decade's worth of bewilderment appeared as a hint of resentment played over the kid's face. A lot less than Bobby would have expected. On the heels of it came pure affection though. Dean cocked his head, indicating the hall leading to the room Sam was bunked down in. "I definitely remember little Sammy Sasquatch, all puffed up and stepping in to save the day."
"Oh, yeah. That brother of yours was mad as hell." Bobby laughed too then, the memory of that image certainly a fond one. "I had one helluva time keepin' the little shit under control. Only thing that did, was you knocking that guy flat on his ass."
"With one punch."
"Give it up, kid. It was two."
Bobby held his tongue, the kid was getting all huffy again. Besides, they were about to wade into some damn uncomfortable waters, so Bobby was willing to allow Dean his fantasy. "But you don't remember anything after the fight?"
"What? After he shanked me, you mean?" Bobby flinched at the memory. Dean falling. Bobby as helpless as John to do anything about it. And then just the other night, watching it happen again. This time to Sam. Both times took his breath away, made his heart sink. Dean, though, at this moment, seemed matter-of-fact. "Can't remember much of anything, really."
"But you remember some?" Bobby was pressing, but Dean was oblivious, working too hard at coming up with an answer. Kid always did aim to please.
He shrugged. "I remember Sammy being upset. Crying like a girl." On the surface, the words might have seemed like ridicule, but Dean's tone reflected only the soft spot he had for his kid brother.
Even still, the rebuke slipped out. "Dean--" Bobby almost said it. Almost said, 'he'd just watched his brother get stabbed.' Caught himself, thank God.
"I know, Bobby."
Shit, he'd still managed to make Dean feel guilty. He'd just have to push on. "So, that's it?"
The kid got wistful, but not like before, when Bobby could tell Dean was working to pull up a few long forgotten memories. No, these memories were held close, and Dean was deciding if he wanted to share them. Open up. If it hadn't been for the concussion, Bobby would've gladly offered up a whiskey.
Just like his daddy though, Dean could always summon up courage whenever he needed it.
"I remember Dad. Yeah. Just. . . Dad." Lashes blinking rapidly, the kid's eyes suddenly shining over-bright. Bobby's too. Giving the kid an encouraging nod, Bobby's throat was closed up so tight he couldn't have said "go on" if his life depended on it. And even though Bobby didn't think he saw him nod, Dean still smiled at that moment. Lord, but it looked bittersweet. He was looking through Bobby now. Past him. Caught up in a decade old memory of a time when home and family meant three, and safety meant just knowing that John was there, or would be soon. And that was good enough. All he ever needed.
'He doesn't ask me for much though, you know?'
Ah, hell. The grief was eating Bobby alive, and knowing that Dean was hurt and still hurting, Bobby felt like a contemptible ass for having started this little exercise. Dean didn't deserve any more pain. Bobby should have just tucked the kid in when he'd had the chance and let him sleep another two hours. Let Sam wake him up next. But the corral gate was swung open now and Dean was still talking.
"He kept telling me he was there, you know? That Sammy was too. Making sure I knew I wasn't alone." Dean shrugged his shoulders almost casually, but his walls were down. And when he looked up at Bobby then, connected with him again, he looked so hurt and so damn young, Bobby could have sworn he was looking at the same nineteen year old kid from that night. The one he'd held onto while he watched John dole out retribution to the man who'd just tried to kill his son.
Ducking his head, almost apologetically, Dean finally spilled a tear when his gaze met Bobby's again. "Guess he knew what I was most afraid of back then."
Back then, huh?
Bobby didn't say it. Instead, he offered reassurance, and took the opening he'd been waiting for. "You meant the world to him, Dean. Always did."
Dean wiped his eyes, swallowed hard and then bobbed his head a few times in what Bobby hoped was acceptance. Belief.
Whatever comfort Dean might have found from Bobby's offering didn't last though, and he stiffened so abruptly, Bobby actually jerked back in his seat.
Eyes that just seconds earlier had held a world of grief, now flashed with that infamous Winchester temper. As Dean's handsome face contorted into an angry sneer, he raised up onto his elbows and pinned Bobby with an accusing glare. "Oh, for fuck's sake, Bobby. Is that what this is? You wanna go back outside? Finish this where we started?" Betrayal flared across hardening features and despite the debilitating headache Bobby knew the kid had to have, Dean shook his head and scoffed. "No, wait. You're right. This is even better. . . Dean's not going anywhere so let's take a trip down memory lane. See if we can fix his self-esteem like one of those old beaters out in the yard!"
"Now, hold on just a minute, kid." This was not good. Not good at all. Problem was, Dean wasn't exactly wrong, here. And Bobby's plan was backfiring.
Dean wasn't finished either. "Is that it, Bobby?" Bitterness fuelled his words. "Do you honestly think I sold my fucking soul because I thought Dad didn't love me?" Dean's outburst had clearly taken its toll though and he slumped back against the couch and pressed the heel of his hand against his brow. "Christ! That was always Sam's baggage. Never mine. And you of all people should know that."
"I do know it, you idjit," Bobby said warmheartedly, calm, hoping to break the ice that was forming a barrier between them. The kid still shot him a dirty look. That was okay though. Not like Bobby didn't deserve it. "So, you wanna tell me then, when it was that you started thinking so little of your dad's opinion?"
"What?" Incredulous. And still pissed. "That's bullshit. I always agreed with him." Amended with, "At least on the important stuff."
Thinking about their argument out back in the yard, after Dean and a newly resurrected Sam had shown up on his doorstep, Bobby could still hear the gut-churning echo of Dean's self-deprecating words. Didn't make him feel much like pulling his punches. "Oh, I dunno. Seems to me that the man I watched that night come close to murdering the sonovabitch that stabbed you, might have something to say about 'maybe my life can mean something'."
"Fuck you, Singer." And this time Bobby was sure the kid meant it.
"Sayin' something you don't wanna hear, doesn't make me wrong, Dean."
"He'd understand why I did it." Dean's voice was sounding awfully rough now. The grief was coming through again and Bobby hated like hell putting Dean through all this. Hoped it'd be worth it in the end.
"Yeah," Bobby sighed. Rubbed a hand through his beard. "Yeah, he would. I won't argue you there." Bobby believed that. Didn't know if he could quite forgive John that mistake. It didn't really matter in the long run, Bobby supposed. This did though. "Question is. . . do you understand why he did it in the first place?"
"Of course I do."
"Which brings us right back 'round to you thinking so poorly of John's opinion."
Dean looked knocked for a loop. Couldn't say Bobby blamed him, the boy did just waltz right into a trap. Even concussions sometimes had their plus sides.
"It won't work, Bobby." It wasn't spoken with a whole lot of conviction though, so Bobby begged to differ. Dean was being stubborn but he was wearing down.
Leaning forward, Bobby laid a hand on Dean's arm. Took Dean not shrugging it off as another good sign. "Look, I know you, kid. And I know damn well that it doesn't matter how many lives you save, or what Ellen, or me, or hell, even Sam hafta say about this."
It was true. Sam's was truly the only opinion that mattered now to Dean. Except about this -- this worthiness bull. That's when Dean could always pull the "big brother knows best" card. And did. Regularly. Bobby'd been witness to that for almost twenty years.
But John and Dean weren't the only hunters to ever make a buck playing cards. And Bobby'd been known to pull an ace out of his sleeve a time or two.
Giving the kid's arm a pat, he locked eyes with him, kept his voice steady. "But, you know what, Dean? There's a man I know, the only one I've ever heard tell of fightin' his way out of a demon's control all on his own. . ." Bobby couldn't keep the reverence from his voice. Didn't try. "The same man that turned around then and sold his soul to that demon. And he did both to save your life."
Dean looked away then, down, anywhere but at Bobby. So Bobby gripped that arm, squeezing hard enough to draw eyes he knew would again be wet back to him. "Now, if you ask me. . . that makes that life mean a whole helluva lot. Doesn't it?"
Dean got awful quiet then. Wistful again. "He was saving Sammy too," came out in barely a whisper.
"When he broke through the possession. . . Sam was in trouble too."
Bobby bowed his head. He had to give Dean credit. It was a weak argument, but the kid wasn't willing to fold yet. Wouldn't be a Winchester if he was. "Oh, yeah? Remind me whose insides were bleedin' all over their outside, then? Or maybe I should ask the man that climbed out of Hell today and saved your ass again."
Dean actually huffed out a laugh then, though it sounded more like a sob.
This time Bobby's hand found Dean's face, cupped it and gently forced it to raise until their eyes met once more. Dean didn't resist. "So tell me then. . . Can you give me one good reason why it is that you think John Winchester can be right about so damn much but be wrong about you?"
Dean drew away, pulled in a shaky breath and then closed his eyes. Kept them that way long enough for Bobby to wonder if the sleep Dean was in dire need of had actually claimed him. Heavy lids parted though, revealing the mute little boy Bobby'd met all those many years ago peeking out from behind the leg of his daddy, desperate to pet Bobby's new pup. And gifting Bobby with the hesitant, grateful smile he was wearing now. "No, Bobby, I can't."
"Good. Didn't think so." Bobby said it gentle, refrained from being smug. Dean looked defeated, not like he'd gained anything here.
That was okay though. Rome wasn't built in a day.