I really need to say thank you for how wonderfully supportive you were at my whinypants rant the other day. If there's anything I can do for you guys, please don't hesitate to call on me.
In the meantime, I thought I'd show you what I've been trying to work on. This is the opening (unbetaed right now, but the full fic will definitely be helped by the skills of at least one fantastic fangirl) of "Generation," the long childhood AU story that I've had in mind for over two years, ever since janissa11 made an offhand comment about the basic premise one day. I hope you enjoy it!
"We're going to have to tell him soon, John," Mary says, unpinning laundry from the clothesline, the soft off-white of their sheets thrown over the blue and red stripes of Dean's in the basket.
"I know," he says, watching Dean run around the backyard, yodeling to himself.
"You gonna make me do it?" she asks, exasperated, arms crossed sternly over the bump.
Dean saves him by hooting like a deranged owl and throwing himself into his lap. "Daddy!" Before John can get his hands under Dean's arms to adjust Dean's weight on his lap, Dean's already wriggled free again. "Mommy! You listen too, okay?"
"Yeah, baby," Mary says, pushing the full laundry basket to the side. "What?"
Dean walks in a circle in front of them, legs crossing strangely, then looks up, face bright and eager, covered in a hundred golden-brown freckles. "Didja hear it?"
"Sure did," Mary says, and John looks to her for a clue. "That's pretty cool."
"My pants make noises! Zhwip-zhwip-zhwip!" Dean giggles and throws his arms around Mary's legs. John reaches up to steady her; her center of gravity's shifted with the baby's growth, and neither one of them can predict when she'll need a hand or when her equilibrium's fine.
She seems okay, though she sways a little, and goes willingly into the other lawn chair. Dean reclaims his spot on John's lap, face down again, and pokes his little fingers into John's thighs. "Daddy's pants don't make noises," Dean says, voice muffled.
Mary gives him a sharp look before he can mouth off about only after eating your mommy's stew, and he makes the sound strategic decision to say something else. "Grown-ups don't wear pants that make noises," he says, and is startled by Dean suddenly flopping onto his back and staring straight up at him though upside-down. Sneakers, no matter how small, hurt when they're digging into a leg.
"Oh," Dean says, sounding a little upset; when he sits up, his corduroy pants hitch up with the movement, exposing his pale legs and bright red socks.
John looks over at his wife, trying to figure out what was so wrong about his answer. She raises an eyebrow, unwilling to help, and the view he has of his son, hunched back and bright hair falling over a little face, isn't yielding any answers. "C'mon, sport, wanna play baseball?"
Dean just shakes his head and slides off his lap, hovering, waiting for a sign. Mary gives him a little beckoning wave and Dean burrows into her side, quiet and as still as he can get. "Honey," John hears her say, low and secret, one hand on Dean's soft hair, "can we talk for a minute?"
Mary's letting him off the hook, as always, when it comes right down to it. He gets up and slides his chair over so that Dean can sit and face her; he knows she wants to cuddle the kid, but she doesn't have much of a lap these days. Dean sits up very straight and waits to hear her speak. John's a bit curious too, about how she's going to do this.
"Dean," she says, "you won't remember this, because it was a very long time ago, but before you lived in this house, you lived inside my tummy. When you were a baby." Dean looks confused, like he smells a rat but can't figure out why his mother would lie to him.
"Okay?" Mary continues. "And now, there's a baby in my tummy again, and soon he's going to live in the house too. He's going to be your little brother."
Dean's not reacting in any way that John can see, like he's gone catatonic or something, and John reaches out to the small figure on the flimsy green chair, catching a shoulder and rubbing gently. "Buddy, you alright?"
"Why's the baby there?"
"Because he wanted to live with us. He said, 'I want Dean to be my big brother. I want to be like Dean when I grow up.'" Mary always knows how to get through to the kid.
Dean's uncertainty is diminishing, the frown easing off his face. "Oh," he says, then lets himself smile at the idea. "The baby talks?"
"Mostly, he kicks," Mary says. "Want to feel?"
Dean's chewing on his lip but holds his hand out trustingly, letting Mary guide him; his jaw drops when he feels a vibration. He leans in close to Mary's belly. "Hi, baby," Dean says loudly and Mary rests her hand on his head and looks up at John, peace and contentment shining in her eyes.
Mary's due in a couple of weeks, and he can't seem to sleep. His nervous energy isn't fazing Mary, but it's affecting Dean, who's crankily protesting his bedtime and getting up in the middle of the night to climb into their big bed; John can't help stroking the hair back off his son's warm forehead as he carries him back to his own room.
Saturday night rolls around, and Mary's already said she won't have the energy to browbeat them into going to church in the morning. By tacit agreement, they've decided to let Dean stay up in the hopes that he'll get tired enough to sleep through most of Sunday. Mary goes upstairs early, kisses for both of them, tucked together on the couch, fists in the big bowl of popcorn and M&Ms that accompanies their usual bonding routine of reading the books Dean picks out on his Saturday morning trips to the library.
John doesn't really understand the value of teaching a kid to read from a book that's littered with made-up words, but every week Dean brings home at least one Dr. Seuss book. Tonight's is Horton Hears a Who!, and the idea of worlds and worlds all around gives him an idea. "Hey, Dean," he whispers.
"What?" Dean whispers back, wide eyes scanning the room for his mother since John only uses that tone of voice to get Dean to join him in ganging up on her.
"I want to show you something. Man to man, okay? Get your shoes."
He still has to follow Dean over to the closet to grab his own sneakers and pull Dean's green jacket from the hanger high above the kid's reach.
"Where we goin'?" Dean's attempts at tying his shoelaces are clumsy but effective.
"You'll see," he says, holding out his hand, and Dean's slips into it automatically.
They go out the back door, Dean carefully pulling it shut. Dean's fingers get a little tighter around his; the kid hasn't been out this late before, and isn't used to the utter darkness. "C'mere, buddy," John says, squeezing reassuringly as Dean negotiates the back porch steps warily, both sneakered feet on each step before he tries the next one down.
They get out to the middle of the backyard, clear of trees, and look up. John remembers doing this with his own father, odd, beautiful nights when they looked at each other and remembered that they were family. "Look at all the worlds out there."
Dean's face is blue-white in the starlight, the color bleached out of his eyes, but the wonder shines through.
John kneels down next to his son, trying to get their heads aligned so he can point properly. Dean smells like soap and baby shampoo.
"See that there? Looks like the pot Mommy cooks macaroni and cheese in? That's called the Big Dipper. And if you follow the handle, you'll see the star called Polaris." He can't really tell how much of this is getting through to Dean, if the kid can see the shapes or if he's overwhelmed by the brightness of the night sky.
Dean stares up for a few moments, clearly considering. Then he turns to the side, eyes John, and points up at the sky. "What's that one?"
He knows without even looking which constellation has caught Dean's attention, the bright glory of it reflected on the little face. "That one is called Orion. There's a story about him, you know." He stands up, his knees popping, and Dean's hand seeks his out once more. He waves an arm at the cosmos, trying to remember what this must have been like on his first trip out to look up at the night sky. It's too long ago, but he's got another chance to live it. "Just like the story about Horton, there are stories about all of these guys."
Dean doesn't ask for them, apparently content to stand under the stars. They stay there together, hand-in-hand for uncounted minutes, and then Dean presses his face into John's thigh. "'M sleepy. And tired." He's reverting back to his first attempts at emphasis, doubling his statements rather than qualifying them, and John suddenly misses the two-year-old Dean who'd fit snugly into the crook of his arm.
He scoops his son up, but Dean doesn't snuggle against his chest like he would have months or even weeks earlier, just eyes him now that they're face to face. "Sounds like you're exhausted, buddy," John says, and watches Dean consider the new word carefully, like he's not sure if accepting it will have greater implications somehow.
Dean finally decides he's being taken seriously enough and nods solemnly. "Yeah. Zausted."
When John hugs him, his little arms squeeze back, hugging tight all the way back into the house and up the steps, until he's safe in his bed.
Bedtime is a word from Before. It has no meaning now.
Mary used to make a game of it with Dean, he thinks. He wishes he'd paid more attention to the words she murmured when she stopped the quick patter of Dean's little feet and scooped him up and took him upstairs to tuck him in. He remembers that Dean caught a long lock of her hair once when she leaned over to kiss him goodnight, caught it but didn't pull, just let it slide through his chubby fingers, and he was so busy watching the two of them, golden in the lamplight, that he forgot to listen, and now he doesn't know any of the charms or promises she whispered in her throaty voice, the pet names that would get Dean to button up his laughing eyes and snuggle happily into his sheets.
Dean's bed burned in the fire. He doesn't seem to want one these days, doesn't want to sleep at all. Sammy's little gurgles are the only thing that can get Dean's eyelids to droop, and though he never hears any movement in the middle of the night, he wakes up every morning to find that Dean has scaled the crib's barred walls to curl around his little brother. It is a daily reproach of how he failed to protect the one he used to curl up with at night, and it's echoed in every glance of Dean's bruised eyes.
Mommy said that the baby wanted to live with them, right? All of them? Not just him and Daddy, right?
Maybe Mommy went away to grow another baby inside her tummy, since this one is outside her now and is Sammy.
But that can't be right because he doesn't remember her going away to make Sammy and Daddy cries all the time and says Mommy isn't coming back. Maybe Mommy went to live on one of those other worlds in the sky, and if Sammy would stop crying, he'd be able to hear Mommy talking to him, just like Horton could hear the Whos, but he can't go outside because Sammy has to stay warm and Daddy yells if he goes anywhere without his little brother.
He misses her. He squishes his eyes shut and thinks the words real hard instead of saying them. And when everything is finally quiet and he can hear her again, he knows she'll be able to hear him too.
Sammy's crying again, and he's too worn out trying to take care of Dean to get up right away. Dean's been so still that he's had to keep one hand on his son's chest just to make sure he's still breathing, lifting it occasionally to thumb away the tears that slip out from under his closed eyelids, thin and purple, and get trapped in his eyelashes. Mary, I need you. Dean needs you.
Sammy's not used to being ignored, and he redoubles his efforts, wailing at the top of his lungs, starting to hiccup a little from sucking in air between sobs. John would be afraid that the clamor would bring concerned or irritated neighbors by to knock on the door, but there's not even a thump on the walls; there are other, worse noises to contend with in this neighborhood. And Dean just lies there like the dead, still and pale and desperately ill, and he wonders if, wherever he is right now, Dean's with his mother.
He wouldn't want to come back to life either.
Bobby Singer opens his door with a wary look on his face. "Yeah?"
"I . . ." Sammy shifts, heavy in his arms, thumb sneaking back into his mouth, and John gives up on finding the right words. "My name is John Winchester. My wife was killed, and I was told you were someone who'd help me figure out what did it."
"That so?" Bobby keeps one hand on the edge of the door like he needs to be able to shut it right quick. "And who told you that?"
He's not strong enough to play games. "A friend of mine named Jim Murphy."
"That pastor I scared off? Didn't think he'd remember anything I said." Bobby gives him another appraising look, eyes lingering on Dean, still silent. "Come in."
"Bobby," he hears, the voice shaping the name low and crisp, and then some woman is heading their way. She's nothing like Mary, not with that thicket of black hair that she wouldn't be able to hold with both hands, not with that way of walking like she'd rather be dancing; Mary's hair always fell in sleek blonde waves, even when she was fresh from her pillow and laughing at his rampant bedhead, and she walked in that athletic American-girl way, with her shoulders back and her height undisguised. The woman slips into their circle easily, one dark hand reaching down automatically to cup Dean's head protectively, fingers getting lost in the mess of Dean's too-long hair.
"This is my wife, Malai," Bobby says, like the look on his face doesn't give that away.
Sammy snorts a little and starts to squirm. John transfers him to his other shoulder and tries to hold out his hand, but Sammy chooses that moment to lift his head and keep wriggling determinedly. "M - Molly," John finally says, knowing he's butchered her name, but unable to think how it had sounded when Bobby had said it.
He stands there like an idiot, watching a bright smile bloom on her face, and he realizes suddenly that he's waiting for her to take Sammy from him. Women keep trying to do that, and Sammy usually has no problem being passed from one sweet-smelling lady to the next. Not even a year old and a skirt-chaser already.
But Molly's not making a move; she's still got a hand on Dean's head. "Dean," he says, "this is Bobby and Molly. Can you say hello?" It's nothing more than a show of politeness; Dean hasn't said anything for months, like his voice has been scared away, or like he's been holding his breath, just waiting to hear his mother's voice again. Dean surprises him, though, by moving forward and gently placing his palm flat against the slight roundness of Molly's belly.
Her delighted laugh gets Dean to meet her eye, and she puts her hand on top of Dean's. "Yes, you're right; there's a baby in there, Sweetpea," she says, the lilt of her voice making even that familiar endearment into something strange and exotic, and John watches in disbelief as Dean gets his arms as far around her as he can and burrows into her side.
"Fuckin' -" Bobby says, looking at Dean like he's some sort of small prophet, and Molly cuts him off sharp with another intonation of his name. John almost smiles, thinking back to the swear jar Mary had settled on top of the TV when she first found out she was three months along with Dean. Bobby will have to learn to mind his language once the baby comes; for now, though, Bobby needs to teach.
"Come, little one," Molly says, dangling a hand in front of Dean, then closing her fingers gently around his when he takes it. "Your papa needs to talk to Bobby." Dean looks back at him, at the heavy lump of baby in his arms, and John knows he can't keep counting on Dean to attend to Sammy and anticipate his every need. He nods encouragingly at Dean to go with her, and Dean nods back and falls into step beside Bobby's wife.
"That kid o' yours," Bobby says admiringly, shaking his head and leading John into the bright kitchen, all yellow paint and sunshine. "Milk in the fridge, sugar in that little green glass thing," Bobby says as he puts two mugs of steaming hot coffee down on the table. "And you can put the little one in here," he continues, scooping piles of paper out of a large basket that's lined with some soft cloth. "Now," he says, when Sammy's situated and they've both treated themselves to that first bracing jolt of caffeine, "tell me everything."
It's got to be just his own imagination playing tricks on him when he sees Sammy's restive fists lashing out as if he's protesting even through his dreams while John tells Bobby about the day the world ended. "My wife - Mary, that was her name - she'd been having funny dreams, was just getting over a nasty cold, woke up real easy, so I'd been staying downstairs, trying to stay out of her way. I fell asleep in front of the TV, and - fucking Christ." It's harder to spit out now than it was when he reeked of smoke and was facing an infinite number of unfriendly cop faces. Bobby's got his eyes down and one finger out to touch Sammy's hand.
"She screamed. Screamed once and that was it. I ran upstairs, and she was there, on the ceiling, pinned there, alive and breathing and so scared. Something had cut her through, but she was still alive. When she looked right at me, that's when the flames started rolling out of her belly." He chokes, just remembering, and a little of his coffee comes back up; he grits his teeth and swallows it back down. "I tried to pull her down, get her out. Couldn't do it." He looks up, hoping against hope to see knowledge and certainty in Bobby's colorless eyes.
Bobby just sits there, keeps stroking Sammy's tiny, velvety fingers. "And your kids? How'd you get 'em out?"
That's definitely not the question he was expecting. Honestly, he was thinking it would be more along the lines of what the fuck have you been drinking? and he has to think for a moment before he can spit out the answer.
"Dean came by. Woke up when Mary screamed, I guess. I pulled Sammy out of his crib and handed him over and told Dean to make sure they both got outside, where they'd be safe."
His heart slams against his rib cage; he doesn't know this man from Adam, and he just let Dean go off with the guy's wife. Some father he is. He stands. "Where's Dean?"
Bobby nods and John grabs Sam's basket by the handle. The house is crammed full of papers and books, but it is clean and bright, and even as he dogs Bobby's steps, John knows the only thing waiting for him is shame for not being able to trust someone who is only trying to help. Still, Dean hasn't been out of his sight since that night, and Bobby's welcome to think he's the biggest asshole on the planet as long as he knows his boys are safe.
He nearly drops Sammy when he finds Dean. Dean is sitting on the floor, in the space between Molly's crossed legs, fingering an amulet she's put around his neck, and talking. He'd forgotten how musical Dean's voice was, how many notes he'd hit with every sentence. Dean's speaking, quietly and steadily, and leaning trustingly back against Molly's belly, bigger and more obvious now that she's seated. "Sammy is a good baby," Dean is saying when he catches sight of them out of the corner of his eye. He stops talking and just looks at John.
John squats down, ignoring the cracking sounds his knees make, and sets the basket on the floor, gently enough that Sammy keeps sleeping. "Hi, buddy," he says softly.
"Hi, daddy," Dean says, equally soft. He's gotten to his feet, ready to go wherever John asks, already peering into the basket to make sure Sammy looks okay. Dean looks at him for a long moment, clearly waiting to hear what they'll be doing next. But John can't speak anymore, throat clenched shut, so Dean fills him in on what he's been up to, away from his family for the first time in months. "M'lai's baby don't got a name now but he will."
John grabs Dean and falls to his knees.
Sammy, characteristically, follows suit the next evening. Now that Dean's chatter has alerted him to the fact that a voice can be used to demand things, Sammy hasn't exactly been shy in bellowing out isolated syllables that evidently carry multitudes of meanings; Dean, of course, has been interpreting them correctly, if Sammy's smiles are anything to go by.
John's kind of dreading the power of full sentences once Sammy figures them out.
The sink in the motel is blocked up with . . . something. Nothing good, that's for sure, so John plunks Sammy into the half-filled bathtub instead. Naked as a jaybird, Sammy clutches John's hair and shirt, wailing, his little feet slipping on the slick surface. "Sammy," John says, interrupting the howls of protest, "you need a bath." He remembers the portable duck-shaped bathtub they'd used to dunk Dean in when he was Sammy's age, the way Dean would crow with delight at the end of the bath, when one of them would pick him up and rub him down with a big soft towel that never quite got all of the dampness out of the ends of his hair.
Sammy keeps up the screams and John just tunes him out, waiting for the kid to exhaust himself. Finally, shivering with cold, Sammy inhales a big bubble of snot and says firmly, "Deee," evidently determined that the bathtub is best faced with backup. That's the first thing he's said that John can actually understand, and he knows he can't blow this opportunity.
John calls for Dean, who's in the bathroom so fast he must have been waiting just outside the closed door. He strips the kid down quickly, realizing only after Dean stubbornly tugs the cord out of his hand three times that the amulet is going to stay on; it's way too long, hanging nearly to his belly-button, but Dean's clutching it like he used to curl his fingers around a corner of his blankie. John doesn't try to take this bit of comfort away, just helps him climb into the tub beside his brother. Dean looks a little taken aback to be sharing, so John nudges him. "You good, sport?"
Over Sammy's delighted giggles and splashes, Dean just says, "Yes, Daddy. It's okay."
There's no answer when he raps sharply at Bobby's door, and Sammy's sticky hand is mimicking the knocking against his chest. John shifts his weight, trying to will Sammy into not kicking up a fuss if he's set on his own two feet, and wonders what to do. If Bobby won't help, if this trip to South Dakota was just wasted time, just a way to learn that Dean gets carsick and that Sammy needs his diaper changed more often than he'd thought humanly possible, he's going to . . . He doesn't know what he'll do. Go even crazier? that nasty voice inside his head suggests in an insinuating whisper.
"Daddy." Dean's piping voice cuts through all of that. John looks down, past Sammy's chubby cheek and flyaway hair to see Dean confidently making his way down the front porch steps, following the path that gleams bright against the dark grass. There's a gate that Dean can't open, not with his height and his less than nimble fingers, but John catches on quickly enough, and helps him out.
The scene they come upon cuts him to the quick. Bobby's sitting back in a lawn chair just like the pair Mary had bought and kept behind the house; Molly's curled up on his lap, her head snugged under the brim of his raggedy ball cap, and they're kissing and smiling, his hand on her belly.
For once Dean is paying no attention to him and doesn't notice the way he stumbles at the reminder of what he used to have. The kid darts forward. "M'lai!" he says, eager and already running, hands outstretched.
He watches her turn at the interruption, still smiling, extending her own arms to scoop Dean up. "Hello, pumpkin," she says, and Dean grins up at her.
"This is Sammy," Dean announces, pointing at him from the safety of Molly's arms. "He's awake this time. An' he talks now too."
As if to prove his big brother right on both counts, Sammy kicks, squirms, and yells, "Deee!" until John puts him down. Dean wriggles free and comes back for him, linking their hands together and slowing his steps to match Sammy's stumbling, overeager ones. John turns away.
He starts at the clap of a hand on his back. "Got some books you'll want to see inside," Bobby says firmly, and guides him in with that warm, human touch.
"I need to say thank you," Bobby says once they're inside, surrounded by dusty books. There's a small stack on the table by Bobby's elbow that looks a little cleaner, like those books have been consulted recently.
He hears Bobby's words on a delay, too busy wondering what kind of answers the books are going to give him. "For what?" he asks.
Bobby looks like he's regretting saying anything, so John waves him off. "Never mind. Whatever it was, I'm glad I could help."
"It's Dean," Bobby finally says. "Malai . . . we lost a baby a while back. Would've been Dean's age, if he'd lived. Dean's what, five?"
"Five," John confirms, remembering seeing Dean in a crowd of friends at the park and thinking his boy was a little smaller than the others. Bright, no question, and the best-looking one, the spitting image of Mary, but small. "He turned five in January."
"He's good for her. Makes her feel like things'll work out this time."
She's good for him too, John thinks, but can't bring himself to say it. He needs to prepare himself for what Bobby can tell him about the thing that killed Mary.
Bobby must see the disbelief and rage and sickness all mixed up on his face because he stands abruptly and says, "I could do with a cup of coffee. You want one, John?"
He dumbly follows Bobby through the house to the kitchen, noticing the designs painted on the floors, bright against the sun-faded hardwood. The boys' voices carry in the uncarpeted space.
"C'mon, Sammy, you can have some of my nanners," Dean is saying as he picks a banana slice off of his peanut butter and honey sandwich. "Open up."
Sammy's got jam all over his face and is clearly jonesing for more sugar. "Dat!" Sammy says, pointing at the little squeezy bear-shaped bottle of honey sitting between Dean and Molly.
"You don' even like honey, Sammy," Dean reminds him patiently. Molly's just watching the whole thing with a smile on her face. "You like -"
Dean cuts himself off, but it's too late. "Jam!" Sammy roars happily.
"Banana, then jam?" Molly offers, and Sammy considers it.
"Nana, then milk and jam?" Dean amends, and Sammy claps and opens his mouth for the banana slice.
Sammy always chews with a determined frown on his face, and Molly starts to laugh, looking up delightedly at her husband. "Oh, Bobby! Look at the face on this one!" Her hand comes up to her throat, worried, when Bobby doesn't respond except to drop a hand on her shoulder. "That bad?" she asks quietly, even though she already knows the answer.
Dean looks up at the sudden silence, broken by Sammy's hands slamming down on the tray locked into his high chair. Dean bends his head and keeps feeding his little brother. "We gotta go?" Dean finally asks, not looking up, and John says yes by putting a hand on his son's back and lifting his baby from the chair.
They're so small, so vulnerable. Mary's boys, the babies she planned for, carried inside her, loved more than anything. How can he keep them safe when things like demons actually exist and live for their destruction?
It's more than demons and death he needs to shield them from. Dean is falling under Molly's spell, behaving like he's got a new mom. It shames him, but he doesn't know what to do with a bright, happy chatterbox; that kid was always Mary's pride and joy. The Dean he knows is silent and worn thin by sorrow. And maybe he doesn't want that boy back, but he can't go on being the only one with Mary in his heart. And it's not like this is a selfish move; once Bobby and Molly have that baby, they're going to have no time for Dean. It's best to just split now, before Dean has to deal with that kind of rejection.
He packs up the car and the kids and goes, saying he needs time to think through all the things Bobby has taught him. He doesn't breathe a word to the boys about taking off, and they both wave happily to Molly, who waddles out to the car to press kisses to their cheeks, just as she has every evening when they leave to return to the dingy motel room.
It's better this way. Bobby and Molly need their space. Dean still has Sammy. And he's got a stack of books to go through if he's going to avenge his wife.
Bobby's contacts are good for getting him a rudimentary arsenal, tips on how to read between the lines of a newspaper article to find admissions that the cases make no natural sense, and practical advice on how to survive on a couple of bucks a day. But it's Jim who tells him the news, when John calls to check in.
John picks up the receiver and gets ready to dial. He looks over at Dean, who's already hushed Sammy up and is looking at him with solemn eyes, too big for such a small face. John smiles a thank you to his boy, punches in the number, and waits to hear Jim's voice.
All through the pleasantries, John can feel Jim holding something back, so before Jim can fill him in on the boring lives of every last one of his flock, he just says, "Tell me what it is, Jim, before I have to drag it out of you."
And still Jim hesitates. "It's Bobby Singer's family. Their little girl was born dead - strangled on the umbilical cord. And Malai didn't last much longer. Complications, they said. Bobby . . ."
John wants to reassure Jim, tell him that Bobby will pull through, but he can't find the words. "He . . . they . . ."
"I'm praying for the three of them," Jim mercifully talks right over him.
"Yeah." He cannot tell Dean. And he can't call Bobby, not when he was the one who took Molly's good-luck charm away. "I have to go - Sammy's up to something." He hangs up the phone, numb, and stares out the window at the brittle fall leaves. He nearly falls over himself, trying to twist away from Dean's gaze.
The story ends when Sam's eighteen, so you can see how much work I've got left to do. If you feel like commenting, that would be great, but don't feel at all obligated - this is a WiP, after all.