The Winchester Legacy: A Father's Day Tale

By Ridley C. James, June 2009

Beta: Tidia

Disclaimer: Nothing Supernatural belongs to me.

Words: 6.856 words

Summary: Pre series Wee Winchester. Dean Winchester reflects on the heritage his father left him and how it will shape the legacy he and his brother will leave behind.

A/N: I’ve done Mother’s Day stories for a while now, and only one Father’s Day fic almost three years ago and felt it was time for another. This little piece came to me as a gift, so I thought I would share. Most of the story is set pre-series when Dean is six and Sam two, however the first section and the last is placed in the future. I think I really needed the Dean and Sam part at the end to reassure myself about things to come with our favorite boys. Let me know what you think.


It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was. ~Anne Sexton

Dean Winchester stood at the edge of the wooden dock he’d built a few summers back staring out over the rippling blue water of the pond. It was a picturesque June day, the sun high in a cloudless sky, the cool breeze keeping the southern humidity in check. He closed his eyes embracing the gentle wind off the water.

He heard the soft tinkling of chimes in the distance. Some Miss Emma had hung when she and Pastor Jim bought the old farm house over fifty years ago. Other wind chimes joined them over the years.

Shell creations from numerous beach vacations, a hand tuned piece from Germany, ceramic footprints from a Bible school project and a sea glass collage brought from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. One would have thought the odd combination would make for a strange cacophony, but instead harmony flowed, much like the hum of voices drifting to Dean on the breeze.

The farm was swarming with people, the way Dean liked it, but the past could cast a shadow even on the brightest of times. He found himself drifting from his family, pulled by an invisible tide to the pond. His moored boat bobbed with the current like an old friend beckoning him out to the water.

The ancient vessel dipped as he stepped inside, bow banging against the dock as D’Artagnan and Porthos jumped in along with him. Alone time was an unfathomable concept to canines. Only Dill stayed on the dock, stretching herself in the noonday sun. Unlike her sire, Boo Radley she was more laid back, content to sit for hours at Dean’s side, even before old age started to creep up on her.

Dean shook his head at the overzealous dogs. “We’re not going out today so you two might as well climb on out of here and go back to begging for hot dogs.” It was his Sunday ritual to spend the afternoon fishing unless he was on a hunt, something he used to tease Jim Murphy about. He considered it karma that like the pastor he rarely caught a damn thing, though he stocked the pond with catfish and smallmouth bass each spring. He would not be dropping a line today.

“Go.” He hardened his command and JT’s German Shepherd returned to the dock. Porthos, on the other hand, remained sitting on the closest bench seat, his whole body wriggling with anticipation of the cast off. The Boston terrier huffed, lifting his one and only front paw when Dean pointed at him.

Like Dean’s youngest son James, the pup was cunning and determined. Dean found it ironic the two dogs reflected each boy's personalities. “No means no, Porthos. That’s final.”

“Please. He knows what a sucker you’ve become in your old age.” Dean looked up to find Caleb standing at the edge of the water, holding two bottles of beer. The fact his best friend had sneaked up on him was a testament to his distraction. “No is merely a suggestion these days.”

“Screw you, Damien.” Dean bent down to retrieve Pastor Jim’s old tackle box from beneath the bench. Sifting through the equipment had a calming effect like working on an engine. “Fortyish isn’t old.” Some days Dean still felt like a twenty-year-old, as if he’d magically lived life backwards.

“That wasn’t what you told me when you were thirty-something.” Caleb stepped onto the doc, sitting the beers on the top rail. “What are you doing out here? There's no escaping the barbecue from hell.”

“Tell me about it.” Dean quirked a brow, grinning when Caleb realized his awkward phrasing. Dean had long since made a fragile kind of peace with his time in Hell, finally comfortable in his own skin despite the deep regrets that lingered like an ache from a long ago injury. The hell hounds had killed him at this very spot, but the pond was never tainted for Dean. Damien held different sentiments and rarely ventured here. “I tried that once and it didn’t work out so well.”

“That’s not funny.”

Dean took Jim’s tackle in his lap, taking a seat beside Porthos and popped the lid. “What’s funny is that you’re becoming more and more like your brother Josh every day. Is sticking your foot in your mouth genetic or contagious?”

“He’s not my brother.”

Even after all the years since Mac and Esme’s wedding, Dean never tired of twisting the stepsibling knife. Caleb was too easy. “You’re just saying that because he majorly one upped you on Mac’s present. He’s the good son.”

“Dad has everything he needs.” Caleb crossed his arms over his chest. “What’s another geeky gadget? It’s the thought that counts.”

“Keep telling yourself that, cheapskate.” Dean started to prowl through sinkers, plugs and spinners, not really sure what he was looking for. “Speaking of brothers, tell me Sammy hasn’t burned my steak. After this last week on the road, I need some real food.”

“You’re in luck. Bobby’s taken over the cooking and the old guy hasn’t lost his touch with a steak.”

Dean snorted, thinking of the grizzled mechanic who could still hold his own on a hunt if need be. “You better not let him hear you throwing around the ‘old guy’ stuff. He’ll show you he hasn’t lost his touch in the ass-kicking department.”

“I think me and Sam could take him.”

Dean glanced up. “Where is The Scholar?”

“Sammy’s been relegated to dandelion picking with the fairies.”

Dean mocked a shudder. “I’m so glad I had sons.”

“Speaking of sons, Ben made it in.” Caleb knelt to pet Dill, the Border collie rolling to her side for a belly rub. “He got here right after you disappeared.”

Dean returned to sifting through the tackle. “Did he bring me presents?”

“Starving med student, remember? Besides I think he’s still believes he can get mileage out of that Father’s Day when he officially took the Winchester name.”

Dean couldn’t deny the surge of pride that still swept through him when he recalled opening his oldest son’s first college application. He had mistaken the choice of Cornell as the surprise but then he’d read the first line, Ben Winchester. “Yeah, well he’s pretty damn smart that way.”

“Don’t feel too bad. James hit me up for some money to get you something.”

“James hit me up for some money for a present for his Godfather.”Dean shook his head at the kid’s audacity. “I’m guessing neither one of us gets a gift and we bought him a new game for Father’s Day.”

Caleb laughed. “Then your last hope is JT.”

“Broke minor who is beholden to me for allowance, remember?” Porthos’s head was buried in the box, snorting and blowing as he rooted for anything of interest. Dean picked him up, depositing him to floor of the boat. The last thing they needed was another fishing hook incident like last Sunday.

“Never stopped you from coming up with a present for your old man. And Johnny was the king of cheapskates, especially when it came to allowance and babysitting reimbursement.”

Dean grinned, never remembering his father doling out money that wasn’t for a necessity. John Winchester was practical. “Yeah. But Dad made sure I had skills like poker and pool sharking to fall back on. He was the king of teaching self-reliance.”

“That why you’re out here?” Caleb raised a brow. “You've been thinking about your dad?”

The question caught Dean off guard. He’d noticed Caleb watching him as they cleaned the grill, sharing furtive looks with Sam who pretended to be engrossed in the Sunday paper. He could guess at the silent communication between Scholar and Knight. Still, he felt a little chagrined his emotions were so easily gauged, not all his thoughts protected by the Guardian gig. “You've been reading my mind without permission, Dude?”

“Don’t even have to go there after all these years.” Caleb gave Dill one final pat and stood. “You do a great job of hiding it, but this day usually has you in a crummy mood.”

“This happens to be one of my favorite days.” Dean returned his gaze to the box, catching sight of a tiny almond-shaped wooden lure hiding beneath a spare rod. The red and black paint of the fishlike sculpture had long since faded, the dotted eye clouded to a lifeless green. “And Sammy is the brooder in the family.”

“Hate to break it to you, Dude, but Sammy’s not the one out here by himself.”

Dean picked up the lure, running his fingers over the smooth pine, careful of the rusted hook dangling from the end. Caleb had a point, one driven home by the sudden knife like ache in Dean’s chest as memories of his father flooded his mind. Sam loved their dad, but his brother had every right to his sentiments where John Winchester was concerned, ones that ran a different depth than his own.

“Deuce? You with me?”

Dean pulled his thoughts from the past, closing the box before sliding it under the bench. He stood up, scooping Porthos into his arms. “You’d rather I be frolicking in the fields, getting daisies braded in my hair by the fairies? Don’t take it out on me because you got tricked into playing Prince Charming at Mary’s tea.”

Caleb extended an arm to help him up. The look on his face gave away the fact he wasn’t buying Dean’s redirect, but par for the course his friend played along. “I was scoring points with the lady guests by doing my doting uncle routine. Chicks eat that shit up.”

Dean smirked, accepting the hand up. He knew good and well that the only girls Caleb was hoping to please were the two with the pink sparkly wings. “You got to make up for the gray hair and floundering sexual performance somehow.”

“Guardian or not, you can always go for a swim with the fishes.” Caleb shoved him, but kept a tight hold on his wrist so that Dean didn’t actually go in the pond.

“People know where I am.” Dean gained his footing and his friend let him go. “And D’Artagnan might tear your leg off.” His threat was echoed with friendly thumping of a tail. Dean set Porthos on the dock with an admonishing look at the less than vicious German Shepherd. “You’re a discredit to your breed.”

“I’m more afraid of the geese.” Caleb cast a wary glance to the surrounding waters looking for the nefarious fowl. “Remember how Jim’s old birds Darcy and Elizabeth used to terrorize you.”

“Your memory fading now, too?” Dean jabbed the older man with his elbow. “You’re the only one those birds went after and that probably had something to do with the firecracker incident.”

“Funny how we all have our selective version of the past.”

Dean recognized the attempted segue. It would most likely lead into fertile chick flick territory. “You got something on your mind, Damien?”

“No more than usual.” Caleb picked up the two beers, handing one to Dean. He grabbed a minnow bucket and turned it over using it for a seat. “Sometimes I like to pretend I’m a normal person and have an actual conversation.” He gestured to the lone Adirondack chair. “Join me.”

Dean opened the beer and pulled a long drink. “Dude, we’ve never been normal.”

“Never stopped us before.”

Dean angled the chair so it was facing Caleb before sitting down. “I guess we’ve done okay for a couple of freaks.” They had exceeded Dean’s expectations, which had them going out in a blaze of glory during the final showdown with Lucifer.

Caleb lifted his beer towards the farmhouse. “I think Jim and Johnny would be proud.”

Dean raised his drink in toast. “To Jim and Dad.”

“They’re here in spirit.”

Dean took another gulp. “Damn, I miss them.”

“Me too,” Caleb said.

“Sometimes it feels like yesterday we were all together.” Dean’s father had been gone almost twenty years, but there were days when the loss would catch him like an unexpected line drive whacked his way. “Dad should be here, burning steaks with Bobby and Mac, Jim overseeing it all from his favorite rocking chair on the porch.”

Caleb nodded. “Johnny would have gotten one hell of a kick out of all this.” He took another drink. “I’d give almost anything to see him go head to head with James.”

Dean eased back in the chair watching as a sparrow hawk dipped towards the water barely skimming the surface before soaring into the sky. “Dad spent his life trying to win the big battle and never got to enjoy any of the spoils he was fighting for.”

“He kept you and Sammy alive.” Damien looked at him. “I think maybe that’s all he was ever really fighting for. In the end, victory was his.”

“Maybe, but I hate like hell he missed everything since then.” Dean turned the wooden lure over in his hand, surprised the tiny initials were still there-JW. He glanced up at Caleb. “These days that’s all I seem to remember when I think of him-how he always missed the good things. Birthdays, Christmas, Father’s Day.”

“I remember that Father’s Day.” Caleb gestured to the lure and Dean tossed it to him, watching as his friend traced his fingers over the initials he had penned. “You were damn determined to win that contest.”

“Pastor Jim and I took first place thanks to that little baby.”

“I think you wore that goofy medal until Christmas.”

Dean laughed. “I think Sam cut some of his teeth on it.”

“Don’t doubt it. That was the summer the runt was sticking everything in his mouth.” Caleb grinned. “Remember Atticus’s squirrel…?”


New Haven, Kentucky - June 1985

Fourteen year-old Caleb Reaves should have been in a happy place. It was summer break, not another school day in sight for at least three months, which left plenty of opportunity for scoring a tag-a-long hunt with John Winchester, some training at the least. Instead, he was in babysitting hell.

“No, Sammy! Drop it. Now.”

The toddler grinned at him from across the coffee table, dimples framing each side of his mouth as he chomped on Atticus Finch’s stuffed squirrel. The two-year-old squealed in delight when the toy squeaked. Atticus whined, getting up from his bed by the fireplace to come and stand by the baby.

“As if the potty training fiasco wasn’t bad enough.” Caleb groaned. “Could you be any more gross, Runt?”

Sam took the toy out, lifting it towards Caleb. “Sammy a dog. Ruff! Ruff!”

“Sammy is disgusting.”

“No, Caleb. I Atticus Finch.”

The Golden Retriever barked.

“You are a germ magnet wrapped in training pants.”

“I get big boy underwear.”

Caleb shook his head, marveling at why anyone actually wanted children. “Maybe by kindergarten at the rate you’re going.”

“We dogs go outside,” Sam said. “I go potty now.”

“No!” Caleb gauged the little boy’s intent and grudgingly got off the couch. “No going outside.”

Sam put the toy back in his mouth, heading straight for the screen door in the kitchen as fast as his chubby little legs could take him, arms swinging akimbo in the air like a baby chimpanzee. Atticus Finch was right on his heels.

“No, Sammy. No!” Caleb wondered if possibly Sam believed his name was ‘Sammy No’ as everyone rarely said one word without the other these days. It would definitely explain the little boy’s lack of reaction to the command.

“Red light!”

Dean surprised them both by opening the screen door and coming inside. The toddler froze at the sound of his older brother’s voice, but chomped on the squirrel, the toy giving one last piteous squeak that had Atticus whining again.

“Sammy.” Dean stepped forward, removing Atticus’s toy from his brother’s mouth, returning it to its rightful owner. He held onto the little boy’s hand. “That doesn’t go in your mouth.”

“Dean.” Sam beamed up at his brother. “I a dog.”

Caleb grunted. “More like a Venus Flytrap.”

Dean’s brow furrowed in seriousness. “It’s normal for his age.”

Over the last year Caleb had determined there was nothing normal about the Winchester brothers. “Who says?”


The teen rolled his eyes. “Of course he did.” Caleb’s adopted father had taken to doling out childhood development jargon to six year old Dean. The teen didn’t know if it was because Mac had given up on John Winchester heeding his advice, or if it was just another attempt to engage Dean. He was the one to suggest the buzz word as a cue for Sam. “What happened to only being gone a few minutes? I’ve been held hostage by the midget for nearly an hour now.”

“Pastor Jim says carving takes patience.”

“If the pastor wants to learn patience, let him watch the toddling petri dish for a while. I could use a nap.”

“No nap time, Dean.” Sam looked from his brother to Caleb. “I hungry now.”

“It’s okay.” Dean led his little brother over to the table and pulled out the highchair Pastor Jim had picked up at the church’s rummage sale. “Pastor Jim and I are done. We can have a snack.”

Caleb moved to the refrigerator and pulled out a pitcher of tea, along with the milk. “Did the project turn out as great as you hoped it would be?” Dean was working on something for Father’s Day. Pastor Jim had sparked the idea when he mentioned the Father’s Day Fish Off at his church this coming Saturday. First prize was double passes to the opening of Back to the Future, a free meal for two at The Dinner Bell in town, and a genuine gold-plated medal.

“It’s good.” Dean helped Sam climb into the chair and strapped him in before turning green eyes on Caleb. “But I need your help.”

“Me?” Caleb grabbed two glasses and a Winnie The Pooh sippy cup. He avoided the boy’s gaze, having learned of its uncanny power to thwart his resolve. “What have I been doing the last hour? You already owe me your piece of apple pie tonight. What else are you going to come off with?”

Dean slid the tray in place and Sam banged on it. “Snack. Snack. Snack.”

“I can give you the car you like.”

Caleb grabbed the peanut butter and bread. Dean was talking about his Matchbox Ferrari that if forced to occupy the kid, Caleb sometimes claimed as his. If he had to lower himself to child status, at least he could do it in style. “I’m fourteen. I don’t play with toys.”

“You like video games.”

“Not the same thing.”

Dean took the milk and filled Sam’s sippy cup. “I can do it without you if you let me borrow some of your paint.”

Caleb captured Sammy’s grubby little hand when he reached for the cup before Dean was finished pouring. “The last time I let you borrow my art supplies; I got in trouble for the finger painting on the porch.”

“I make pretty picture for Jim.” Sam greedily clutched the cup after Dean tightened the lid.

“Right.” Caleb dug a spoon into the peanut butter spreading it on a slice of bread. “You made hard labor for Caleb. Sammy is a disaster in a diaper.”

“No diaper. Big boy pants.”

“I helped clean up,” Dean said. He took the bread from Caleb and folded it, tearing it in half before giving Sam the two pieces.

“Not the point.” Caleb began making another sandwich, adding Jim’s fresh jam to one side of this one. Sammy didn’t like the seeds. “What are you going to be using it for?” He smashed the two pieces together licking a blob of blackberry from his thumb.

Dean reached into his pocket and pulled out a small wooden sculpture. “The other fish won’t believe my lure is a fish unless I paint it.”

Caleb took the small oblong object from Dean, handing off the sandwich to the six year old. “You were going for a fish?” The small chunk of wood was carved smooth, only tiny ripples from Jim’s whittling knife visible. It favored a rock. “I’m not sure they’re going to buy it as a fish even with the paint, Dude.”

“Fishes eat worms,” Sam offered. “Yuck.”

Caleb looked at the smiling peanut butter smeared toddler and handed the unfinished lure back to Dean. “Tiny Einstein has a point. Maybe you should go dig some earthworms.”

Dean chewed his sandwich with a frown, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “Worms won’t make a very good present.”

“Depends on who it’s for?”

“It’s for Dad for Father’s Day.” Dean placed the lure next to his sandwich and looked up at Caleb, a gleam in his green eyes. “He can use it during the big fishing contest at the lake in town. He’ll catch the biggest fish ever, maybe even Old Earl, and we’ll win first prize. Then I can take him out to the movies and dinner.”

“Slow down, Opie Taylor.” Caleb poured Dean a glass of tea, sliding the little boy’s cup over. Caleb’s stomach clenched and the teen was suddenly aware the sensation had nothing to do with hunger pains. Dean’s thoughts were coming through loud and clear. “Did you tell Pastor Jim your big master plan?”

“He told me a story about Old Earl. He’s a catfish as big as Atticus Finch.” Dean took a gulp of tea. “I told him I thought Daddy could catch Earl and he said we could make a fishing lure for his present.”

Caleb propped his elbows on the table. “But did you tell Jim why you wanted your father to catch Earl?”

Dean shrugged. “I told him Daddy used to like movies.”

“Deuce.” Caleb groaned. It was like the Santa Claus thing all over again. He was certain that Pastor Jim wouldn’t have encouraged the idea if Dean had explained his plan. The problem was Dean still had a thing about lengthy conversations when it came to the grownups. One word answers and nodding was about as good as it got on some days. “Mac and John are on a hunt. They might not be back by tomorrow.”

“But Daddy said he would be back.”

“When did he say that?”

“Last night on the phone. I told him about the fish off and that Pastor Jim said we could go. He said that sounded like a lot of fun.”

Caleb sighed. He’d been around the Winchesters enough to realize that Dean discriminated on who he talked to, however John was selective about what he listened to. The combination meant that Dean was rarely, if ever, heard. “And John said he would be home in time to do the fishing contest with you?”

“Guess what, my boys?”

Dean’s reply was cut off by Jim’s entrance, the screen door banging behind him. The smiling pastor was carrying a basket of raspberries he’d picked from the bushes where they grew along the fence line of the field. “I think I might have beat the birds and found just enough ripe berries for dessert.”

“I want cookies,” Sam said. “Peanut butter cookies.”

“Sammy,” Dean admonished his brother’s bad manners.

Pastor Jim put the basket down on the table, running a hand over Sam’s hair with a grin. “I bet we could whip up a quick batch with the peanut butter you’re wearing, Samuel.”

“I like peanut butter.” Sam picked up the second half of his sandwich. “Better than worms.”


Caleb didn’t miss the suspicious look the pastor sent his way that suggested Caleb might be in trouble if he didn’t clarify quickly. It was probably because of the mud pie incident. “No insects have entered his mouth. I swear.”

“Earthworms are annelids,” Dean said, quietly.

Caleb glared at the six year old. “Why don’t you tell Pastor Jim about your big plans for tomorrow, Deuce?”

Jim moved to the counter to grab a glass, but cast a glance over his shoulder at Dean. “Is Caleb referring to the fish off, my boy?”

“He told you about it?” Caleb turned in his seat to frown at the pastor. “About whom he’s entering the contest with?”

“Entering the contest?” Jim brought his glass to the table and reached for the tea. “I’m not sure I understand.”

Caleb glanced to Dean. “Dean thinks he and his father are going to enter the fish off.”

“It’s for dads and their kids,” Dean said. “Jim said so.”

“That’s why he’s making the fishing lure as a present.” Caleb turned to the pastor, arching his brows. He annunciated each word slowly. “So they can catch Big Earl and win first prize.”

“We have your boat, Jim,” Dean said. “And you told me the fishing lure I’m making is the best ever. It’s guaranteed to land a big one.”

“Dean, my boy…” Jim sat in the seat closest to the six-year-old. “I’m afraid our conversation about the contest might have been misleading. I’m one of the judges going to represent the church. I meant for you, Caleb, and Samuel to come along to enjoy the picnic afterwards.”

“I like picnics.” Sam looked at his big brother. “What’s a picnic?”

Dean didn’t answer. “But what about the contest? I need to win the big prize.”

“Son, your father is on a very complicated hunt.” The pastor placed his hand over Dean’s. “It could extend through the weekend.”

“Father’s Day is Sunday. I saw the commercial on television.” Dean pulled his hand away, turning his gaze to Caleb. The teen felt his peanut butter sandwich threatening to make a surprise return. “Dads are supposed to be with their kids. How will I give him my present?”

“I should have thought about that, Dean,” Pastor Jim said. “This was most definitely an oversight on my part. You, Samuel and Caleb should be with your fathers on Sunday.”

Caleb hadn’t really thought about the significance of the day. He had answered the phone when John called Mac about research on the current hunt. He knew John was going after something big because Caleb made it clear he was out of school and free to go. John was even clearer that no way in hell was the teen going to be allowed to tag along. Mac was determined that Winchester not go alone. It didn’t sound like a mission The Guardian had doled out for Knight and Scholar.

“Then you can tell them to come back.”

Caleb watched Jim’s face as he shook his head slowly. “I’m sorry, my boy.” Caleb was learning even The Guardian had limits.

“I hate you!” Dean screamed at the pastor, pushing his chair back before storming out of the room.

Caleb heard him stomp up the stairs and slam the door. He looked at the pastor awaiting the possible explosion.

“Where Dean go?”

“It’s okay, Samuel.” Jim stood but not to go after Dean. He slid the tray from the highchair and lifted the toddler out, placing him on his lap. Sam’s bottom lip began to tremble, his eyes filled with tears. “Dean will be just fine.”

“He didn’t mean that,” Caleb said, still staring at the spot where Dean had been sitting. It was Caleb’s experience that yelling at adults was never a good thing.

“Of course he didn’t mean it.” Jim picked up Sam’s sippy cup offering it to the baby. “And I’m actually quite flattered that Dean feels he can be honest with me.”

Caleb frowned. “He’s pissed at you.”

“He is upset at the situation as he should be. I need to pay closer attention to what I’m say and to what he’s trying to tell me. I forget the way a little boy’s mind works.”

“Dean’s different.”

“Dean has been through a terrible ordeal.” Jim began a slow rocking to hush Sam’s distress. “It’s hard to learn to trust again when the world has let you down.” The pastor met Caleb’s gaze. “It is a readjustment for us all. Dean’s not the only one trying to sort everything out.”

Caleb licked his lips. “Could you find another judge for the contest?”

Jim smiled. “Brother Benjamin is always looking for the opportunity to step into my shoes and shine in front of the congregation.”

“It wouldn’t take much to load your boat into the old truck.” Caleb’s mouth twitched. “I can watch the brat if I have to.”

“Sammy not a brat,” Sam said, sleepily. “I a dog.”

Jim laughed. “Now that Samuel has set you straight, perhaps you could return the favor for Dean.”

Caleb reached across the table to grab the wooden sculpture. “I think I can handle that.”

He found Dean curled on the double bed he and Sam shared in the room that adjoined the one Pastor Jim had set up for Caleb. The six year old was facing the wall and didn’t roll over when Caleb entered. “You’re not going to finish the big project that way.” The teen took a seat on the bed. “Don’t think I’m going to do it for you. I’m already getting your dessert and the red Ferrari. That pretty much leaves you broke except for one stinking baby brother, and I don’t want or need one of those.”

Dean rolled over. “You said I was your little brother.”

“No.” Caleb snorted. “I said you were annoying and a pain in the ass just like a little brother.”

The boy’s face scrunched up as if he were remembering the incident the way it actually happened the month before at Mackland’s. “You said you didn’t like me and made me get out of your room.”

“That’s right.” Caleb nodded. “I don’t like you.”

Dean propped on his elbow using his other hand to wipe at his eyes. “But you don’t mean that.”

“No.” Caleb shrugged. “Not really.”

Dean sat up. “I don’t hate Pastor Jim either.”

“I know.” Caleb had said that and worse to Mac a few times over the last year. “Sometimes it’s easier to be mad at the people we care about and who care about us.”

“I really, really like Pastor Jim.”

“You should.” Caleb offered Dean the lure. “He’s going to be your partner in the big fish off.”

Dean took the lure. “Really?”

“Pretty cool, huh?”

“It’s still not Dad.”

“Sometimes you have to take what you can get, Deuce.” Caleb bumped his shoulder. “You might be surprised that the consolation prize is better than the real thing.”

Dean didn’t seem to get what he was saying, but he nodded just the same. “I guess.”

“What’s the big deal about the fishing thing anyway? John doesn’t strike me as the outdoors type.”

“If anybody can catch the biggest fish, it’s my dad. He can do anything.”

Caleb wasn’t going to argue. “And the movie deal?”

Dean curled his fingers around the lure. “My mom liked movies a lot. Dad used to take her to the theater in town and out to eat. It always made her really happy.” He looked up at Caleb. “I want my Dad to be happy again.”

Caleb didn’t want to be the one to crush Dean’s hopes like at Christmas when the boy thought Santa would deliver his mother back to him. What Mac called ‘magical thinking’, Pastor Jim would call hope. “I think you should do the contest with Jim. I believe you can catch that fish.”


“I think you have a better chance than with your Dad.”


“Because your priorities are straight.” Mac was always telling Caleb how important it was that he did things for a good reason. His father explained the motives of a good person. “Your heart’s in the right place.”

Dean opened his hand and looked at the small wooden sculpture in his palm. “I’ll need the best bait.”

Caleb nudged his shoulder. “Pastor Jim said that thing was guaranteed.”

“It doesn’t look much like a fish now.”

“It will be better after we paint it.”

“You’re going to help?”

“I’ll supervise.”

Dean nodded. “I’ll use black and red.”

“I haven’t seen many fish that color.”

“I want it to be lucky, so I’m using Dad’s favorite color and Sammy’s favorite color.”

“Black and red it is.” Caleb stood to get his art kit. “Maybe fish are colorblind.”

“Predatory fish have cones that allow them to see color, but catfish only have rods.”

Caleb didn’t even want to know where Dean had gotten that bit of trivia. The Winchesters were so not normal. “But do you know what kind of fish Big Earl is?”

Dean didn’t miss a beat. “A dog fish?”

The teen couldn’t stop his laugh as he thought about Pastor Jim’s exaggerated reference to Atticus Finch. He reached out and ruffled Dean’s hair. “You’re not half bad, Deuce.”

The little boy smiled. “I really like you too, Damien.”


New Haven, Kentucky - Sometime in the future…

“I caught Big Earl. Dad and Mac made it back for the movie the following week.” Dean didn’t remember going to the show or what they ate at The Dinner Bell, but he remembered his father’s laugh, the sound he had missed since his mother’s death.

“Of course.” Caleb smirked. “I’m almost always right.”

Dean took the lure back from his friend. "I thought saving the world and being The Guardian were hard. I got to tell you, being a dad is harder.”

“You are a damn good Guardian, Deuce. But you’re one hell of a dad. Better than Johnny ever got a chance to be because you’re heart is still in the right place.”

"You’re not a half bad best friend.”

“I am an awesome best friend.” Caleb smiled. “After all, I was the one who got stuck babysitting stinky Sam while you lived it up at the movies.”

“Who are you calling stinky?”

“You, Runt.” Caleb turned to Dean. “You think maybe that medal was lead based? It would explain a lot.”

“I thought you two geniuses might like to know that the boys have started a game of Capture the Flag.”

Dean groaned, lifting the beer bottle to his head. “I’ve warned James and Max about that game…”

“Bobby’s taking bets,” Sam said.

Dean pinched the bridge of his nose. “Of course he is.”

“Bobby was always up for some good boyish fun.” Caleb smirked. “What kind of odds is he giving?”

Sam frowned. “The odds are someone will end up with stitches.”

Dean turned to look over his shoulder. The distance and the thick woods separating him and the farmhouse didn’t allow for a visual. “Where the hell is Josh?”

“Esme sent him on an ice run. She promised the girls homemade ice cream for dessert.”

“How convenient.” Dean gestured to Caleb. "Today is the day I’m supposed to get a break, a day of worshipping at the feet of fatherhood. This is a job for The Knight.” Dean leaned back in the chair. “Besides you were the one who thought that game would be a great training exercise.”

“Great suturing and splint training for Ben,” Sam said.

“You do realize you’re still tattling, right, Runt? Did Mac promise you a Ben Franklin?”

“I don’t do it for the money. Thwarting your influence gives me purpose.”

Caleb stood, pointing his beer at Sam. “This is exactly why I am their favorite uncle.”

Sam grabbed the beer for himself, sidestepping Caleb as the Knight strode past him. “Keep telling yourself that, old man.”

Dean smiled, taking another swig of his beer. “Josh wonders where Max got the dramatic exit thing.”

Sam stole the bucket once Caleb had gone. D’Artagnan and Porthos followed The Knight’s lead, but Dill remained, propping her head on Sam’s knee for a good ear scratching. Dean could feel his brother’s gaze as he stared out at the water.

“You okay?”

“I thought you won the Rock Paper Scissors match? Caleb already came out to poke the pink elephant.”

Sam didn’t deny Dean’s accusation. He grinned. “Caleb’s as bad as you at that game.”

“I always let you win.”

Sam slid a hand over Dill’s head, letting his fingers glide through her silver tipped fur. “So you guys talked?”

Dean laughed. “Dude, I’m fine. I just came out to make sure the boat was secure. As hot as it is, we’ll probably get one hell of a thunderstorm tonight.”

“That’s all it was?”

“You want me tell you I was thinking about Dad?”

“You still miss him.”

“Some days more than others.”

Sam sighed. “I haven’t thought about him in a long time.”

Dean looked at his brother. ”You think that’s a good thing?”

“I think that means that I’ve forgiven him.” Sam met his gaze with a smile. “And I should understand how important clemency is.”

Dean nodded. He had long since accepted his father wasn’t perfect, no one was. He also understood why Sam felt the things he did. As complicated as their relationship with their father was, Dean couldn’t let go easily. “What about when Mary was born?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean when JT and James were born, when I found out the truth about Ben…Hell, I would have given about anything to have rung up the old man. There are still days when I have to make a judgment call about something one of them has asked me or something they’ve done and I just wish I could ask his advice. You know?”

Sam shook his head. “You’re the first person I called when Lydia went into labor,” he said simply. “You were the only one I wanted to talk to.”

Dean licked his lips. “You remind me of Dad when you’re with Mary.”

Sam ran a hand through his hair. “I hope not.”

“I meant the way he was before Mom. The way he was with you when you were little.”

“Dad didn’t teach me to tie my shoes, take me to my first ball game, or give the birds and the bee's speech. He wasn’t there all the times I needed understanding. Dad didn’t put me back together after the Lucifer thing.”

“He was still our father.”

“I know, but if I’m a good father, Dean, it’s because of you.”

Dean peeled at the label of his beer. “I don’t know about that.”

“I do," Sam said. "You’ve always been there for me, even when I didn’t always deserve it. You believed in me. When Lydia found out she was pregnant, you promised me it would be alright. When she left me and Mary you got me through it. You brought Caleb and staked out her crib with me all night the night she turned six months. When I have questions, doubts, I talk to you. You’re the best father I know. You’ve been the only father I’ve ever really known. You’ve never failed to point me in the right direction.”

“I’m like your True North?” Dean was pretty sure he didn’t deserve the accolade his brother was dishing out, but it dulled the ache in his chest he’d had since waking up that morning. He found he didn’t even have to force himself to smile. “Tell me this isn’t where you re-gift that old compass yet again, the one with the sappy poetry written on it.”

Sam returned the grin. “Sorry. I gave it to Ben when he went to college.”

Dean laughed. The long ago ‘Father’s Day’ gift had made its rounds between them and to Caleb on occasion. It was fitting that it now resided with Dean’s eldest. “That’s okay, I’m sure one of his brothers will be seeing it again if they make it to high school graduation.”

“True.” Sam snickered. “Ben is a Winchester after all.”

“Damn straight.” Dean lifted his beer. “To the Winchesters.”

Sam clinked his bottle against it. “To the Winchesters.”

Dean took a long drink, taking a moment to enjoy the silent comraderie with his brother. "Hey, Sammy?"


"How about we take the kids into town and catch a show tomorrow?"

"I don't know, man. I'm planning for my summer term class at the university and researching a hunt for Ethan."

"Work can wait." Dean leaned forward. "That new Disney movie is playing. The brats will eat it up."

"Disney?" Sam groaned. "Really?"

"What?" Dean grinned. "You used to love the princesses, Samantha."

"When I was two." Sam snorted. "Long before I lived with one."

"Popcorn and Coke's on me." Dean raised a brow. "I'll even through in some Red Hots."

Sam's mouth twitched. "You going to make the boys tag along?"

"Depends on what kind of presents I score."

His brother laughed. Sam's laugh sounded a lot like their father's. "Then you can count me in."

"That's my boy." Dean tapped his beer to his brother's again, even more thankful for all his dad had given them.



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