The problem wasn't so much Sam's happiness. He was happy with Becky and with his place in the family. He was confident he'd made the right decision in staying behind when Hope had returned to the future, but it wasn't that simple. He'd known what his place was in the future, what it was he was supposed to do. Here - in this timeline, in this Sioux Falls, in this world - everything was different. He'd been studying with the Men of Letters, but in a place where the conflict with Hades had been resolved, he wasn't sure where he was supposed to go from here. And then, there was the problem of his younger self - of the Sam that would grow up in a very different world to become a very different person than himself.
But in the end, it always seemed to circle back around to Hope. What had happened when she'd returned to her own time? Was she safe? Was she happy? Sure, she had her brother back, but it wasn't him. Together, they'd helped change the future for the better, but it had left Sam feeling like a boat without a rudder and without the one person in his life who had always helped him keep an even keel - Hope.
The sound of Sam's car pulling up to his parents' house warned them of his impending arrival. Jo was already heading for the door as she called out to Dean.
"Oh, goody," Dean grumbled sarcastically. "Should I hide and then jump out and shout 'Surprise'?" he asked, not really expecting an answer.
He'd been feeling agitated all morning. He didn't really want to have this little talk with the adult version of his son, but he knew that for Sam's peace of mind, it was necessary. Hell, for his own peace of mind, it was necessary. Somehow, they had to make Sam understand that everything happens for a reason - even this.
"Only if you're planning to drop your pants at the same time," Jo countered, letting the grumbling pass her by. She was just as agitated, but she definitely handled it better than her husband. Opening up the door, she leaned on the frame, hugging her cardigan about herself, smiling warmly at Sam. "Hey, little man."
"Drop my pants and shout 'Pudding'?" Dean asked with a smirk, but that joke was likely lost on Jo. That had been another lifetime ago, one he had put to rest a long time ago.
"Geez, Mom," Sam grumbled as he made his way up the walk to the door. "I haven't been a 'little man' in a long time." In fact, these days, he towered over her, nearly as tall as his father.
"You're still my little man," Jo insisted fondly. She smiled at how similar Sam was to Dean, right down to the grumbling. "C'mon in, warm up. Becky's at the bunker until tomorrow, right?" She ignored Dean's private joke, knowing it was probably hilarious in context.
"I'll put the coffee on!" Dean called over, hightailing it to the kitchen. It wasn't that he was being a coward exactly, but he thought maybe mother and son needed a few minutes alone. At least, that was his excuse, and he was sticking to it.
Sam couldn't help but smirk. "Dad being a coward?" he asked his mother quietly. "And yeah, Becky won't be back 'til tomorrow."
"Little bit!" she agreed, closing the door behind her grown son. "I get it, though. He's all wound up. You know what he's like when it comes to talking to people he loves."
"Um, he talks to you all the time," Sam pointed out, shrugging out of his coat as he stepped inside. He was perhaps the one person in all of South Dakota who never complained about the snow or the cold. It beat the hell out of Hades' version of the climate.
"Well, yeah, but that's because I never give him a choice," Jo answered, with absolute honesty. "He makes me talk about my issues, so I do the same back to him. And today, little man, it's your turn."
Sam frowned, not because she'd referred to him as a "little man" again - he had a feeling it was useless scolding her about it. No, it was the reason they'd asked him to come over. There was something they wanted to talk to him about, and he had a feeling he knew what it was.
"Mom, I'm fine. Really. You don't need to worry," he assured her, turning to hang his coat on a hook near the door, like a good son.
"I know you're fine," she told him. "But I also know you're grieving, honey. If anyone knows this feeling you're struggling with, it's me and it's your dad. We just want to help."
There was that frown again as he turned back to face her. There was no point in denying it, though they hadn't lost anyone in some years. The reason for his grief had been the elephant in the room for some time now, and he needed to face it and come to terms with it before it poisoned his relationship with Becky. He knew that, but he wasn't quite sure how to do it. "I know you want to help, and I appreciate that, but unless you can bring Hope back, there's not much you can do."
"I know," she said gently. "We can't bring her back, and this Hope might never be the Hope you remember and love. But we can show you the future you created by coming back here, and by staying. And maybe your dad can help you let go a little. Okay?"
"Show me the future?" he echoed, frowning skeptically. "You mean like when Hades took Dad to the future?" he asked, remembering the story his father had told him umpteen gazillion times. It was all there in Dean's journal, too. Though Hades had hoped to trap Dean there and kill him, his plan had backfired, and Dean had returned more determined to defeat Hades than before.
"No, honey." Jo lead him toward the kitchen as she spoke. "I mean Ayden and Clotho have put their heads together and found a way to make it so that you can witness the future."
Sam furrowed his brows in confusion. "Mom, I don't need to see the future. I know it's better. That's why Hope and I came here - to make it better." Not only for themselves, but for the entire world.
"Don't argue with me," she warned. "You're wallowing, even if you keep saying you're not, and the first step to pulling yourself out of that is to see the positives you've created just by being here. Now sit your butt down and drink coffee with your dad a sec, I need to make sure your sisters aren't throttling each other in their sleep." This was a blatant reversal of what Dean had done just a few minutes earlier, but at least the Winchester men knew Jo wasn't going to abandon them for more than ten minutes.