Sammy’s first word is a garbled sound; a bubble of spit that borders on a whine.
Dean grins, baby teeth and something like radiance and “Dad," It’s always Dad, never Daddy anymore. "Dad did you hear that? Dad, he said my name!”
Dean doesn’t gloat, not really. He just breaks into this big grin every time Sammy squeals something that sounds like “De” every opportunity he has (of which there are many) and waves his arms in his brother’s direction. So what if it’s not really Dean’s name. It’s close enough and no one’s going to take this away from them.
John tries not to be too bothered that it takes Sammy much longer to grasp the concept of at least saying “dada,” but he’s still pretty damn proud when he does. And happy. Mostly happy.
He’s happy but hurt, because Mary’s not there next to him, baby boy squirming on her lap with her eldest wrapped around her leg and her smiling, saying, John, John did you hear him?
Sammy gives his family one of those silly little grins of his again and Dean laughs in the way five-year-olds are supposed to and John’s heart breaks just a little bit more.
It takes him even longer to learn what “mama” means.
“You don’t,” Dean starts to say, but the words clog up in his throat before he can get the rest of them out. He stops, and suddenly he can feel every breath going into his lungs, every twitch of muscle as his fingers curl listlessly at his sides. If he listens hard enough, maybe he can even feel the blood rushing to his head and his heart pound against his eardrums. And if he bothers, maybe he can even hear every instinct rattling through his bones and screaming no.
Cas stands there before him, ratty sweatshirt–where did he even get that, what happened to the trench coat–zipped up and his hands buried in the pockets and Dean’s never seen Cas look so small, curled in on himself and trying so badly to mask how hurt he is. This is the expression that accompanied the devastation of Heaven, the decimation of angels, tearing apart the cosmos and Purgatory–this is the expression of Dean telling him to leave. This is his response to Dean rejecting him.
And yet, Cas stands there before him and waits for him to finish.
Sonny asks him if he did it because he was hungry.
He thinks about the four-year-old with tousled hair and wide-eyed grin asking about “scabetti-ohs” and Lucky Charms, the seven-year-old poking at the cold bits of leftover pizza and asking why his big brother isn’t eating any, the ten-year-old and his free meals at school as lunch money turned into salt and silver bullets and bandages and stitched-up apologies.
He thinks of the twelve-year-old slumped across a beaten table in a beaten motel room as his big brother reviews fractions with him and the twin growls of growing bellies over the theme songs of Saturday morning cartoons.
He thinks of the silent look and then the refusal to eat if the other doesn’t and the two dollars left in his pocket that burned all the way from the motel room door to the corner store to the back of an unfamiliar car.
Sonny asks him if he did it because he was hungry and Dean says “no.”
The first time you tell him you love him it’s a Sunday morning and it’s raining.
You walk out of the bedroom you share with him, padding toward the kitchen with a yawn and you hear him banging around because it’s his turn to make breakfast. You look a mess, hair disheveled from sleep and you really just want to tell him off because it’s 7 o'clock in the morning and neither of you got to bed until late because you were too busy marathoning Indiana Jones the night previous.
You stand in the threshold between the living room and the kitchen, watching him twist his way past the kitchen table you found at a yard sale a few months back. He nearly knocks that fern off the windowsill by the sink and you laugh as he putters around to the fret over the toaster.
He looks up when he hears you, and you shake your head at the happy puppy grin he gives you, even if it’s the same image you’re greeted with every morning. He offers a brief greeting, stepping toward you before something seems to dawn on him and he backtracks, all but stumbling his way back to the counter. You want to laugh at him again, but it’s early and you’re tired, so instead you wait and take a few steps into the kitchen before he whirls around and holds out a steaming mug of coffee.
You don’t even mean to say it.
You look at him, trying to gauge his reaction by the way he suddenly freezes. He looks winded, like you just sucker-punched him, like this major bombshell you’ve just dropped is meant to be accepted at face value and he’s not supposed to think too much of the aftermath. The ceramic is hot against your hands.
You’re afraid; you think that was the wrong thing to say to him, to this boy whose family history you hardly know but no, no you can’t take it back, you won’t. You start to say his name, take another step toward him, try to break him out of the doe-eyed look.
He moves closer, and you have half a mind to bolt when suddenly all you can think about is the way his hands feel against your skin, fingertips dipping into the corner of your jaw, calluses pressing against your cheeks. His other hand tucks a curl away from your face, and it’s then that you remember that you still look disheveled, dressed in a pair of his sweats that you stole last night because it’s your turn to do the wash and you haven’t done it yet.
He says your name, repeats it, pressed up against you, and even though your lips are chapped, you’re the one that takes that last step and kisses him, forcing him a step back. You follow, squirming as you set the coffee mug back on the counter before your fingers find purchase in his hair. You can feel him smile into your mouth and can’t help but return the favor, flush against one another and then he pulls away just enough to whisper it back.
He kisses you again, and it’s another twenty minutes before you recall the coffee you left behind.