SWEET CHILD O' MINE
"This was the twenty-ninth child left in the hospital's emergency room since the passage of the state's safe haven law."
Sam Winchester frowned, not because of the story being reported on the motel's crappy television, but because his brother was standing with the door wide open behind him, allowing the pathetic heat that had built up in the room to escape. "Motel, not barn, dude. Shut the freakin' door." He instinctively ducked, figuring his brother was getting ready to chuck their dinner at him. Instead, Dean closed the door, put the greasy white bags on the table, then hightailed it to the bathroom where he proceeded to be violently, and loudly, ill.
Sam closed his eyes and tried to convince his stomach that whatever his brother did had no influence over it. After a while, and convenient near silence from the bathroom, his stomach agreed and Sam went to the bathroom and filled a cup half full of water. "Rinse," he said as he handed the cup to Dean, who was still bowed before the toilet.
His brother did as asked, then leaned back against the tub. Sam noticed his eyes were red and his face was wet. Damn, those must have been some heaves. "So what was it? What'd you sample on the drive back? The fries? What have I told you? Hot grease does not kill everything, man."
"Not the food, Sammy," Dean rasped. He wiped his face with the palm of his hand.
"Then what? You pick up some kind of virus?" Dean shook his head and mumbled something. Sam sighed. "You gotta be clearer than that, Dean."
"Babies left in the E.R."
"What?" Dean wasn't making sense. As usual.
"My baby was left in an E.R... I think."
"Your... What? You sayin' you knocked up some girl and she dumped your baby in an E.R.?" Of course, he shouldn't be surprised, considering the way Dean slept around. But, yeah, color him surprised. "When was this?" During the years he'd missed while at Stanford? Or was it before? While they were traveling around with their dad, never staying more than a few months in one place. Could the mother have thought Dean had walked out on her? That he wouldn't have cared she was pregnant?
Dean shook his head. "My baby."
God. "I get that part, Dean. Who was the mom?"
Dean drew up his knees until he could rest his head on them. "I was."
Okay, this was getting bizarre. Even for Dean. "Dude, you're a dude," he gently reminded him.
"Didn't matter in hell."
Fuck. There went the hope that his brother's stomach virus was causing fevered delusions. He reached for Dean's elbow. "Get up. We're not having this discussion on a bathroom floor."
He guided Dean to one of the beds, handed him an open bottle of water, and watched him drink half of it before sitting on the opposite bed.
"Thirty years of torture and rape, Sammy. Got old after awhile."
Rape. Why hadn't he considered... Of course demons would consider it "fun" to rape a ladies man like Dean. Not to mention he'd noticed men, non-demon men, looking at his brother.... "So what? They come up with something new?"
"Not they. Alastair. A demon on a mission. One day he was...fucking me and he took a dagger and cut me from here to here." Dean's hand fluttered down his abdomen. "Thought he was gonna do the usual. Considered yanking out my intestines foreplay. Instead, he stuck his hand inside and started chanting. It started to burn and ol' Alastair could multitask with the best of 'em. The more it burned, the louder he chanted and the harder he fucked. I either passed out or died before he came."
Sam sat there, frozen. What he could he possibly say, or do? No, the only thing he could do, the only thing Dean wanted him to do, was listen. And if in the end Dean said he never wanted it mentioned again, he wouldn't. Not even a fucking siren was gonna pull this one out of him. He'd rip out his tongue first.
"When I finally know where I am," Dean continued, his gaze distant and haunted, "I'm somewhere else, not on the rack. There's nothing around me but darkness. I try to move but although I can't see them, there are some kind of walls--barriers--around me. Eventually I hear Alastair's voice and he tells me that he's hidden me, that he cares for both of us too much to let his fellow demons know about us. I'm, like, the dude's finally gone around the fuckin' bend, you know? Just my luck to find the only schizo demon in Hell."
Dean sighed and scratched at a knee. "Finally figured it out, though. Growing stomach. Wiggling inside. Me with a baby bump. Wild ride, Sammy. I knew what the bastard was up to, figured out his whole fucked up scheme. Things weren't going his way, you see, and there was nothing he could hold against me, nothing to threaten me with. Pain? Terror? Shit, I'd been fucked up by so many goddamn monsters in my lifetime, that hell really had nothing on me. No hostages to fortune...except this thing he'd planted inside me.
"I tried not to think of it as a baby. I mean, it was half demon, half sinner, ya know? Couldn't be good. Couldn't be nothing but a Frankenstein's monster. Growing inside me like a fuckin' cancer tumor." Dean slid a hand down his stomach. "But sometimes its hand would follow mine when I rubbed across it. And once, it had a case of the hiccups and it kinda tickled." He sort of smiled in remembrance, then sighed. "I was alone in Alastair's little secret lair. And you know how bad I am with alone, Sammy. So much shit because I can't be alone. Like comin' to get you. And the fuckin' deal with the crossroads bitch. And...talking to the thing growing inside me, getting used to it, thinking of it as something real.
"I was fucked at the moment of its conception and Alastair knew it. He showed up one day with his handy dandy dagger, and he just split me open and dragged it out. Looked just like a baby. Cried like a baby. Like you did when Mom brought you home. Angry, determined, but...needy.
"Alastair said it would be a fine gift for Lucifer. Tender, yet tasty. I freaked the fuck out, of course. Good thing I bled out before I could frighten the kid to death. When I came back to life, Alastair was squatting in front of me. Said he had an offer, because I was such a good mommy. Said if I agreed to be his apprentice, to learn all he had to teach me, he wouldn't give the kid to Lucifer. That he'd take it topside and leave it at a hospital. I knew he could be, probably was, talking shit. Hell, I knew it probably wasn't a real baby. Could've been a delusion he stuck inside my head. Demons lie. Demons fuck you up.
"But I couldn't take that chance. I couldn't... You sayin' yes to Lucifer would be like that, Sam. Would be like me feeding a baby to that sonovabitch."
Sam felt his fingernails cutting into his palms and relaxed his fists, forcing his fingers to grab the cheap "satinesque" bedspread instead. "That's why--after thirty years--you got off the rack. For your child."
"For a kid who probably never existed, Sammy! I broke the first seal, fucked over the entire world for something Alastair dreamed up in my head. At least Ruby was a real piece of ass, an evil bitch, but real. Alastair had my number, dude. Knew family would break me every time." Dean took a deep breath and fell back against the bed. "I'm tired, Sam. Sorry your dinner got cold." He rolled over to face the wall, drawing up his knees, becoming small and self-contained.
"It's okay. There's a microwave."
"Don't burn down the room with me in it, yeah?" Dean said, his voice fading.
"Yeah." Sam sat there and watched his brother until his breathing evened out. Then he undid Dean's boots and removed them. After sniffing the blanket on his bed, he pulled it off and draped it over Dean.
Then he headed to his laptop.
A dumpster truck rambling outside the motel room woke Sam and he saw that not only was it morning, but he'd never made it to bed. Thankfully, the small amount (really just a dab) of drool that had escaped was on the table and not the laptop.
"Well, if this is how it's going to be, we can save money and only get one bed," Dean said. He groaned and sat up. His hair was sort of wonky, but Sam knew better than to mention hair. He could only imagine what his looked like after using his arm as a pillow.
"I did some research," Sam began, not quite sure how to share his nighttime discoveries.
Dean cracked his jaw and gave a sigh of relief. "We got a case?"
"There was a male child left in the ER in Lawrence about the time you...you know. He was found in a cardboard box--a Heluva cheese box."
Dean stiffened, then seemed to shake it off. "Alastair always did wear out a good pun."
"He was adopted quickly."
"White, male infant. Not human, but who the hell cares, right?" Dean gave a wry smile and shrug.
"His adopted father is a cop and his mom is a school teacher." Sam took a moment before finishing, knowing this would be important to Dean. "And, dude, they've adopted before; the kid has a big brother."
Dean's shoulders sagged and he dropped his head. "So, any unexplained animal disappearances in their neighborhood, sudden fires, strangers with black eyes and candy for the kids?"
Sam shook his head. "Nothing supernatural happening in the area. I...double-checked." He hadn't wanted to, had wanted to just believe Dean's son was normal, unaffected by what his birth father was. But he was a Winchester and while Winchesters buried the truth, they never ignored it.
Dean nodded and dragged his phone out of his pocket. Sam hadn't realized he'd slept on the thing all night. "Cas," he said softly and gave their address. He was at the door when the knock came.
"Dean," the angel said, having learned to respect some need for privacy and showing up at the door as opposed to directly in the room.
"C'mon in, Cas." Dean grabbed his kit and a set of clothes. "We need someone hidden. Sam'll give you the details." He walked into the bathroom and closed the door. The shower began.
Sam tried to be as casual about the angel as Dean. But it was hard work. "Dean has a son."
Castiel frowned. "But according to the Prophet Chuck, Ben Braeden--"
"Not Ben," Sam interrupted, although he had a lot of doubts about Lisa Braeden's veracity. Lying to protect her son from Dean's obviously dangerous lifestyle, yeah, he could see it. Understand it, even. "This kid's younger, about two years old. He...he was born to Dean in Hell."
The angel cocked his head to the side. "He was born while Dean was in Hell?"
Sam shook his head. "Dean--gave birth to--him while he was in Hell."
The angel lifted an eyebrow, then gave a solemn nod. "In Hell, as in Heaven, souls are neither male nor female. But humans often hold onto their self-perceptions."
Okay, that made sense. Dean getting pregnant didn't. "Alastair raped him and said some kind of spell." And if he could re-animate the demon and kill him all over again, he would in a heartbeat.
"A creation ritual. Alastair was indeed high up on the food chain."
And, yeah, the angel spent too much time with Dean. "He used the baby to get Dean to climb down from the rack, threatened to feed the kid to Lucifer."
Castiel stared at him. "I doubt that Lucifer is into baby-eating." Then he slowly blinked. "However, I would have said Uriel would never go against our Father and that Zachariah would never lead a rebellion against Heaven." He blinked again and shrugged. "Lucifer may indeed have gobbled up the baby."
And the Deanisms continued. "So, yeah, he told Dean if he joined him, the baby would be left in a safe place on earth. Seems Alastair was true to his word."
"As he had to be. A lie to Dean at that point would have seriously compromised any future negotiations."
Sam crinkled his nose. "What future negotiations? He had Dean by his self-perceived balls and both of them knew it."
"Your brother is a singularly stubborn man, Sam. He has only followed one man without question and that was because he was conditioned to do so as a child. Even so, in the later years, your father noticed that Dean was not as blind as he thought, nor as obedient."
Sam had seen that, too. He just--forgot--it sometimes. "The child is in Lawrence. He--"
"Could be useful to both sides. I will do what is necessary." The angel turned toward the door, then paused and looked back at Sam. "Does this change your perception of your brother?"
"What?" Sam pursed his lips. "Because he was raped?"
"Because he did not climb down from the rack due to weakness, but to his dedication to his family."
Whoa. Where had that come from? He'd never thought--Shit. Had he? Was that where all the accusation of weakness had come from? "I--" He couldn't continue. He didn't know how to continue with that train of thought. So he switched to another. "This kid? Is he...is he real? Can he pass for human? Is he...evil?"
Castiel didn't hesitate. "He is a creation, the combination of two souls as opposed to the combination of two sex cells. Just as that combination is unpredictable and unique, so shall this child be." He then smiled faintly in Sam's direction. "Take care of yourself and your brother, Samuel." The angel raised his voice slightly. "Dean, your son will be protected." Sam didn't hear anything from Dean, but Cas gave a nod as in reply. Then he was out the door and gone.
A few minutes later the shower stopped and soon Dean was out, gel drying in his hair and his dirty clothes in a ball under his arm. "Saved you a tiny bit of hot water--I think."
"Cas is on his way to Lawrence."
Sam almost pumped his fist in the air. He knew Cas and Dean had their own private communication system and now he had proof. Then he sobered, knowing he had to ask his brother a question that was too painful, but oh, so necessary. "Dean?"
"Does knowing you have a son...does that make you want to say yes?" Cas and Alastair had the right of it--Dean was dedicated to his family.
"No." Dean turned and started stuffing his duffel.
"No?" How could that be? Dean could stop everything, no--put everything right--just by giving in to Michael.
"The needs of the many, Sam."
Sam glared at him. "I'm calling bullshit on that one, Dean."
"Really. Everyone knows if you have an Achilles heel, it's your family."
Dean laughed, low and scoffing. "If I was so concerned about my family, do you really think you would've spent your life the way you did? Unhappy as hell. Wanting some place permanent to lay your head and never getting it?"
"That was all on Dad, Dean."
Dean checked his phone and crammed it back into his jeans. "You think so? You think I didn't have my ways of manipulating him? Think I couldn't have called Child Services whenever I wanted to?"
"We would've been separated," Sam began.
"Bobby's always had papers that made him our legal uncle. Jim was our godfather. We would've been together. Dad would've been allowed to visit."
Sam had to sit down, because, really, change of world view right here. "Why didn't you?" He wasn't angry, at least not at the moment. Maybe when he had a chance to think about it....
"Because people died when Dad wasn't there. People die when we're not there."
"So, I'm just supposed to believe you're this selfless, world savior."
"Or a narcissistic megalomaniac who believes the world won't turn without him," Dean pointed out wryly.
Sam shook his head. "We won't go into you actually knowing how to use two multi-syllabic words in the correct combination, but I still call bullshit. How did selling your soul fit into this altruistic mission of yours?"
Dean shrugged. "With you dead, I'd probably have done my best to see that the world burned. Trust me, bringing you back did the world a whole hell of a lot of good."
"But you can live with the death of your son? Why? Because he's unnatural? Because he was the product of rape?"
"Gonna go down to the Crisis Center and get me a couple of pamphlets, Sam? Help me redeem my sense of self after forty years in an abusive relationship?" He snickered and slipped his knife into his boot. "I know who I am. I know who that kid is. But I also know living with Zachariah and his band of dickless dicks in charge won't be living. I can't say yes. Maybe I can't save the world, but I'm sure as fuck not going to condemn it. Again, I mean, since first-seal-breaker in the house!" He said the last like he was at a hip-hop party.
Sam laughed, because, really, could he and his brother be any more screwed up? Two narcissistic megalomaniacs in an old Impala righting the world one wrong at a time. Don Quixote had nothing on them.
"Hey, Chuckles? Ready to get going? I missed dinner last night and man cannot live on good deeds alone. I need bacon."
Sam grabbed his jacket. He could grab a shower after they got back. Maybe the water would be hot by then. "But what about the needs of the pig?"
"He needs to be fried just this side of crispy and be hidden beneath a couple of eggs."
Sam laughed again and followed his brother to the car. "You know," he began as they took off to the dinner they'd passed on their way into town, "we could swing by Lawrence when we leave."
Why was his brother finally finding his inner "no"? Something else to blame on the angels, no doubt. "Why not? You can't tell me you aren't curious."
"I'm not Dad, Sam."
"Meaning?" Sure, he'd accused Dean on that before, but what did that have to do with anything now?
Dean tapped his fingers against the steering wheel. "Meaning I'm not gonna go to the trouble of hiding a son, only to get him killed because I couldn't stay away from him."
Oh. Adam. Shit. "Okay."
"Okay?" Dean demanded.
"Okay," Sam vowed.
At breakfast Sam was pleased to see the baby revelation hadn't affected Dean's long-term appetite. They bounced around ideas about their current case, a simple haunting involving one of Bobby's old clients. It was a rule they'd instituted when Bobby got wheelchair-bound--anything he asked, they did.
By the time they headed back to the motel, they had a plan of action in motion; Dean would check the internet for information while Sam showered, then they'd hit the town with Sam going to the library and Dean to the barbershop to question the locals. Yeah, it was that kind of town.
Castiel was standing outside their door when they pulled in.
"Finished already?" Dean asked, opening the door and gesturing the angel inside.
"I did not do anything. The child is already protected. If Sam had not given me the address, I would not have been able to find him."
"Already? What does that mean?" Sam asked anxiously.
"That Alastair was indeed powerful."
"Why?" Sam looked at his two companions for comprehension. "Why would Alastair --"
"Ownership," Dean said flatly. "Demons don't like to share. Or Door #2: To keep me an obedient bitch. Or Door #3: To fuck with me. Pick your choice or choose 'em all."
"But when he hid you in Hell, he said it was because he cared," Sam argued.
"But Dean, don't you think it's possible he--"
"Don't make me say the 'R' word."
Ruby. Proof positive that Sam sucked royally at discerning the motives of demons. "Fine. I'm going to take my shower."
As he closed the bathroom door, he noticed Castiel taking a seat. Wonderful. Dean had a pet angel and now maybe even a pet demon. Because even though Alastair may have thought Dean was the pet, Sam knew his brother too well. What had Cas called him? Singularly stubborn. Sam recalled Jess talking about the cat she had while growing up. She fed it. She petted it. She gave it toys. Yet it never came when she called, it hissed when it didn't want to be bothered, and there were faint scars on her fingers where it had literally bit the hand that fed it. Basically, despite all she did to care for it, it still did whatever the hell it wanted.
Sounded like Dean all right.
So a demon that may have actually cared. Or was at least obsessed enough to try and fake it. Why? Why did everyone think Dean was the greatest thing on two legs?
He started the water and continued his thoughts under the kinda warm flow. Their dad had favored Dean. Yeah, yeah. All the demons were quick to point out that Sam was the favorite son, but Sam now saw that as a ploy to pump up his ego.
As if it needed help thanks to Ru--the "R" word.
It was a given that Bobby favored Dean. Ellen--sometimes he wondered whether she wanted to mother Dean or try him out in bed. Jo--no comment. Even people they didn't know liked Dean better. That kid in Wisconsin had spoken for Dean. That actress in HOLLYWOOD had slept with Dean--wait, he wasn't even gonna start on the number of people who'd slept with Dean; the water would be ice cold before he finished that list. And then there was Gordon Walker who seemingly wanted Sam dead just to keep him from tainting Dean. Even Gordon Version 2 (With Bloodsucking Action!) tried to save Dean--when he wasn't snacking on him, that is. Good ol' irresistible Dean.
The only attention Sam ever attracted when Dean was nearby: old women who wanted a sympathetic ear (or a firm ass to pinch); crazy, dead doctors (who wanted to "cure" him or pop his eyeballs out); and women in various supernatural states, i.e., werewolves, vampires, crazed book fans, and of course demons--Meg being the first, the "R" word last.
And then it hit him, right when the water cooled as he rinsed his hair. Ruby's way in had been showing interest in him and dissing Dean. Jealousy. He'd been brought down by jealousy. Not arrogance. Not anger. Not his demon blood. But simple, Cain versus Abel jealousy.
The oldest fucking trick in the book.
He snorted up water and started coughing.
"You okay in there?" Dean called, with a rap on the door. "Drowning in the shower is kinda trailer trash-ish, and we have an image to keep up, you know."
Sam gave a final cough and turned off the water. "Yeah, because rednecks are so much higher on the social ladder."
"We're just good ol' boys," Dean sang and his voice tapered off as he walked away from the door.
"Never meanin' no harm," Sam mumbled, continuing the song as he got out his shaving supplies. But, hell, they meant harm wherever they went. The Impala was a rolling arsenal and the two of them were highly trained killing machines.
Who started the Apocalypse.
But as Sam stared at his face in the mirror, somehow he felt better about it now. What was done, was done. Because no matter what happened weeks, months, years ago, there was a "next gen" of Winchesters now. A son. A nephew.
Yeah. Alastair, whether deliberately or carelessly, had stacked the deck against both Heaven and Hell. True, Alastair could've had some kind of long-term plan like Azazel had, but he couldn't have known Sam would kill him dead--not just send him back to hell but indubitably dead. Whatever plan he may have had, had to have died with him. But the child still lived and this child--conceived by magic and debasement, by pain and blood--gave them hope even as despair surrounded them.
And he and Dean could take just a trace of hope and pull all kinds of impossible tricks out their asses. They'd been doing it their whole lives. Bobby liked to call it "idgit luck." Sam was starting to think, however, that maybe it wasn't just luck; maybe it was possible that even though God had left the building, He was still hanging around the neighborhood.
"Hurry up, Samantha! You can play with your tiara later."
Sam opened the door, flipped his brother the bird, and got ready to send a ghost back to where it belonged.
Just like they were gonna do to Lucifer's rotting ass.
"Jerk," he called out to his brother, a smile accompanying his sunny tone.
"See you took your happy pills, you bipolar bitch."
"Know you are, but what am I?" he sing-songed.
"Sam," Dean said gravely, "if you ever have a son..."
They were actually gonna talk about this? "Yeah?"
"Hope he takes after his awesome uncle."
Sam let the wet towel that had once adorned his head do his talking.
Yeah. Maybe he favored Dean, too.
Because Dean had a son. And he was gonna save them all.