Characters: Mary, John, Sam, Dean
Summary: She's not twenty-four anymore.
Spoilers/Warnings: AU, offshoot to 5.13 (honestly I don't know how to classify this)
Word Count: 1,697
A/N: I watched last night's episode and then my fingers wrote this. My fingers send their apologies. ♥
She’s not twenty-four anymore and her hair can’t do that thing, that bouncy-feathery-Farrah-Fawcett-thing, because it hasn’t been trimmed in a month and Dean “accidentally” pushed her curling iron into the toilet somewhere around Oklahoma.
“S’outdated,” he said with a cheeky grin as she tapped her palm lightly against his stubbled cheek, and the warmth inside of her when his eyes twinkled just a little brighter might have ached, might have hurt. She wasn’t always here and he didn’t always look this way.
She’s not twenty-four anymore and her hair’s growing in silver. Her boys are always snickering in the drug stores under piles of snack foods and cases of beer as she thumbs through the different shades of blonde dye and John’s up front, asking the clerk how long he’s lived here and if he knows anything about that creepy house four miles up the road.
In the car, Sammy’s legs are too long for the back seat and he fidgets and sometimes he complains, sometimes he starts in with the, “Maybe it’s time we thought about getting a new -”
Dean’s elbow is always poking into Sam’s ribs before this sentence can be finished and John’s always looking in the rearview and saying, “Dean.” in that low voice fathers are supposed to take with sons who hit their little brothers and Mary’s always turning around and gently prying her thirty-one-year-old’s strong arm from her twenty-six-year-old’s massive side. And she always asks, “You okay, baby?”
And Sam doesn’t try to ask the question again, not for days.
She’s not twenty-four anymore and there’s only one vacancy at this motel, two doubles and a pull-out that looks and smells like an infant or a cat or anything with the ability urinated all over it.
“It’s all yours, Conan,” Dean says, dropping his duffel onto the edge of the bed closest to the bathroom and pushing Sam in the direction of the cot.
“He didn’t sleep on beds of piss, Dean.”
“Dean.” She says his name and he gives in, allows Sam to throw his bag on the other side of the bed. He never puts up a fight, not with her, except when she shoos them out of the motel room that night to dye her hair in peace, when he digs his heels into the carpet like he’s a six-year-old with separation anxiety. Or a baby who’s never been weaned.
“You don’t need to do that shit,” he tells her, stepping deliberately away from the open door.
“Language.” He always looks ashamed when she scolds him, even when he’s heard her swear ten thousand times over already. It hasn’t even been that long. A month, maybe a month and a half and he doesn’t remember at all. He doesn’t remember that she raised him any more than she remembers how she got here.
“M’sorry, but you don’t. You’re beautiful and you don’t need shi-stuff out of a box. You should come to the diner and eat with us and-”
“Dean.” She only has to say his name and he drops his head and scuffs his boot into the dingy motel carpet. Three strides and she’s there with his head in her hands, balancing up on her toes to kiss the corners of his eyes. “Bring me back some pie,” she tells him. “Preferably cherry. And two forks.”
“For you n’ Dad?” he mumbles.
“For you and me.” She pecks his cheekbone, lowers her heels back to the floor. “Pie is our time, right?”
“Right.” And his steps are reluctant but he offers a smile as he edges himself out the door, won’t close it, won’t walk down the concrete path to the car until she’s out of the room and waving him off, silently promising she’ll still be here when he gets back.
The pie waits in its styrofoam container on the motel table as John hauls out a large volume on things too dark and dirty for this room and her boys and she has to stop herself, has to bite her tongue as Dean peers over his father’s shoulder and points at a set of words, poses theories and makes connections. This is his life, their lives, has always been their lives and always will be and they can’t even budge against this glue holding them here.
“Sammy, sweetheart, stop fidgeting.”
It’s Sam. He doesn’t say it. Not to her. Never to her. To John, to Dean, but never to her.
“It doesn’t need to be-”
“It does. Now hold still so this won’t get bloody.” She’s careful with his hair. He’s very particular for a boy who never gets it cut and rarely washes it and she doesn’t want to upset him, doesn’t want him to look in the mirror and then at her and think you did this to me. Even though she did. She did, but she never wanted to.
She brushes her baby’s damp and detached tendrils off the comforter and into the wastebasket. His face is pale and he’s afraid to look.
“It’s still long,” she assures him, and she puts her hand on his back as he rises, rubs his shoulder blade and marvels at the age of her skin, once so smooth and milky, now wrinkled and verging on translucent, worn in from time and endless battle. She’s not twenty-four anymore and she doesn’t remember the fight. Vague memories, maybe planted, but she doesn’t remember how she got here. She only remembers her sons.
“It’s good,” Sam says, his voice soft and sincere and he turns around and leans down to kiss her cheek.
She’s glad. Sam falls back-first onto the bed he’ll be sharing with his brother tonight, allows her to pull the heavy boots from his feet as he twists and bends down to reach for his laptop. She tries to ignore his mutterings about Dean and porn and frozen web browsers.
The pie is cold, but sweet, and she loves watching Dean eat. He eats the worst things, but whenever they’re in his mouth, whenever he’s chewing with his eyes closed it’s like he’s somewhere else, somewhere where he’s not fighting or dreaming bad dreams or pouring alcohol down his throat to numb himself from it all. She eats her share as daintily as her mother would have wanted her to, gets up from her chair and spits on her fingers, wipes the red goo from her son’s mouth.
“Mom, seriously?” Dean scrubs at the violated area, doesn’t resist when she pulls the side of his head into her chest and plants a kiss on top of it.
“Maybe you should wash your face.”
“Maybe I was going to.”
He does. He washes his face, comes out fresh and clean and smelling of spearmint toothpaste, traipsing past an impatient Sam who dashes immediately into the bathroom. She watches the methodical way he places the pillows in the center of the bed, every once in a while looking up to glare at the bathroom door.
“I don’t need his gigantic limbs flailing all over the place,” he explains. “Barriers are necessary.”
She’s not twenty-four but she can giggle like she is, can giggle while her husband pulls her into his lap and draws her in for a kiss.
“They’ll always be our little boys,” John mumurs into her ear because he knows that's what she wants him to say, what she wants to believe. She hopes he’ll keep saying it until it’s unshakeable, this faith that they can take it all back, can make it better. At least for a little while.
“Gross,” Dean mutters, sliding his feet under the covers. “Maybe you need a barrier, too. I don’t need to hear any of... that.”
“Moms and Dads don’t need barriers, kiddo.” John’s trying not to smile, but he fails and she hits him upside the head like she used to when they were kids, back when he took great joy in being a goof for her personal amusement.
“They do when their sons are adults and know exactly how things work.” Dean’s shudder is theatrical and she kind of wants to tickle him like she used to when he was three and enjoyed being tickled.
She pulls the covers over her children that night and kisses them like she’s been kissing them all day, every day since John pulled her up from the street, since they walked in a daze until they met that quiet angel in the trench coat with the gravelly voice and awkward social skills, that angel who told them where they needed to be.
And they’re here.
“You don’t remember me, yet?” she asks, her nose in Sam’s now-clean hair. She’s not hurt when he shakes his head, because she doesn’t really remember him so much, either, just small flashes of bandaging scraped knees and pinning aced spelling tests to the refrigerator.
“Time travel is wonky,” Sam says, and his eyes are sorry as she trails a warm hand down his cheek.
It really is. It really, really is.
“I love you,” she tells him and Sam blushes like he’s never heard it before, even though he’s been hearing it every day since she’s been here. “Have sweet dreams, baby.”
“M’love you, too,” he mumbles and turns on his side, his back to Dean.
“And you, my little troublemaker.” She smothers Dean with kisses and he flails and makes noises and pretends to hate it even though she’s well aware that he never wants her to stop. “I love you.”
“That was cute when I was three,” he grumbles.
“It’s still cute now,” she replies and she heads to the bathroom, doesn’t disappear into it until she sees John get up and approach their boys’ bed.
She pulls off her clothes and shrugs into her nightie. She brushes her teeth and washes her face and looks at herself in the mirror. Her son says she’s beautiful.
Mary Winchester is fifty-five years old, a mother, a wife, and a hunter.
And she’s alive.