((Note: This is a sequel to Glow, where Sam and Jess have a kid.))
Life goes on. About as well as can be expected, anyway. Mariah gets the chicken pox when she’s pretty young, but she grows like a weed — one of the cutest little accidental weeds Sam’s seen, anyway. Dean drops by often to see them, and John drops off the map, and Sam knows it eats away at his brother; so he invites him in, kicks his feet off the coffee table. Jess and Mariah and he go to amusement parks, to the beach. Anywhere the car gets them. Sam gets in a harmless little accident when some idiot rear-ends him. Another Moore is born; two, actually. Jessica’s aunt loses her battle with cancer in the summertime, and Sam dresses Mariah in her aunt’s favorite little outfit she’d bought her. Sam and Jessica graduate college and get pictures blown up for the dresser, and then Sam goes to work; days are long sometimes, and it’s not exactly a white picket fence, but it’s the happiest Sam’s ever been in the entirety of his life; it’s a place he belongs, a place with roots. Thriving, heavy roots.
Dean’s over today, though it’s not the usual. He’d gotten into it bad with a water wraith and it nearly drowned his stupid ass. Sam had spent the day sewing a large cut on Dean’s side, and Jess knows enough about their lives to know that this is to be expected sometimes; she doesn’t mind it. Maybe because Sam worries too much in her presence when Dean’s gone for longer than usual. After Dean’s laid up in the guest room with painkillers and a neat row of dental floss sutures across his ribs, Sam immediately transfers into Mariah’s room. Cleans his hands of blood and sets her in his lap, adjusting his tie, multi-tasking before he needs to go. She’d just turned three now, heart set on the giraffe doll her uncle had given her at her jungle-themed celebration, hair a bedheaded mess on her head.
“Your hair is a nightmare,” he says, running a comb through it. It’s coarse brown hair, framing a chubby face that turns upward toward him. Dean tells him over and over that Mariah is like an even girlier version of her dad, but Sam swears up and down she’s got her mom’s looks. He would never say it outright because it’s kind of dreary, but he couldn’t imagine that taking after him would be a compliment. He couldn’t explain why, couldn’t really comprehend his own line of thinking, but it’s just… It’s not fair to think like that. There’s nothing wrong with looking like him. Dean just sees more of the good in that little boy from then, and there’s nothing wrong with that, because Sam was just an innocent kid. Before that Christmas.
But… This feeling… like his skin isn’t fitting him right —
“You’re going to be late,” Jess says from the doorway, wandering over to crouch next to them. Sam snaps out of it, blinking up to stare at the lovely pair of eyes as a smile crosses his face.
“Sorry. Trying to figure out how to tame this beast here.” He motions to Mariah’s hair, hooking his finger around the back of her pull-ups to keep her from running off on him. Jess just shakes her head in amusement, and Sam forgets every negative little thing eating away at his thoughts. Focus on something else — yeah, like getting this little dress over Mariah despite her trying to weasel her way out of it.
“Just go for the pigtails, Sam.” Jess grins. “You can never go wrong with pigtails. It’s a little girl’s best weapon; when I was little, it’s all Mom ever put me in until I was at least seven.”
“That’s pretty cute, Jessie-wessie,” he teases lightly. She nudges his arm, but he just smiles and smiles as he reigns in Mariah’s wavy brown locks. For a toddler, she sure does have a lot of hair.
Mariah plays around, says, “Daaaaddy. Look, look, my gur-affe, s'talking. Mer-mer-merrrp.”
Translating her thought process is a work in progress, he thinks. Meanwhile Jess blows out air, sweeping her bangs up with it. “They’re crooked.”
“Look! Look, you’ve got them all lopsided!”
Sam examines the pigtails carefully (yeah, definitely jacked them up), before he scoops up Mariah and takes off through the house, toward the front door. “Then she’s ready for her daycare! My turn to do the drop-off — Winchester-style!” And Jess follows after him, cursing her mini-skirt, demanding he turn his tall self back around before she takes his car keys from him. He’s kind enough to let her fix their daughter’s hair as she’s buckled in, and then Jess loops around to adjust Sam’s tie and hair. He explains not to let Dean into the fridge, because he’s going to do something with that lobster later tonight. Not that Dean’s even really able to move from the bed, and it makes Sam a little guilty to have Jess put up with him.
She waves it off. “You serious? We play card games and watch Family Feud ‘til I leave.”
The image earns a laugh. “Yeah, well, he’s a cheater. Never forget that.”
“Daddy, dive,” Mariah complains. “Go fas, go dive!”
“And that’s my cue.”
As he pulls away from the drive, he gives Jess one contented glance before he adjusts his rearview mirror, looks at Mariah watching the scenery pass with a quiet, thoughtful expression. Green-gray eyes reflect the sky. He thinks maybe this is what his Dad saw — what Dean saw — when they looked into the back of the Impala once, a long time ago. The thought is bittersweet, and his lips curl up gently as he pulls away to start another day that is going by far too soon. Even if he feels off, always feels like some piece of a puzzle is missing inside him, or perhaps that there’s too many pieces in the first place…
He’s complete enough to see the big picture.
And it’s good.