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Messages - Samuel Winchester

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Disposable Heroes / Re: A Peek at the Future
« on: February 17, 2020, 06:03:13 PM »
"I think Ares would throw away everything to keep Ayden safe," Jo said confidently. "Doesn't he have past issues with Poseidon, too? The wet dude doesn't really have much in the way of friendly relations on Olympus, as I recall."

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend," Dean murmured. "Well, the most important thing is keeping Becky safe," he added. Family was family, after all. "We should probably tell Bobby and Ellen." That much went without saying.

"We will," she nodded. "Do you want to pass it on to Kirsten and Loki as well, or would that be spreading the news too far?"

Dean winced at the mention of Loki. He still wasn't too sure about that particular god's loyalties. He felt the same about Gabriel and Crowley. They were allies, so long as they wanted the same things, but he trusted them about as far as he could throw them. "I don't know. I trust Kirsten, but the jury's still out on Loki."

"All right." Jo smiled at him. "We can hold off on that until we have more concrete evidence to go on. Right now, it's just a possible vision of the future."

"So, until we know more, we wait," Dean said, reiterating what Jo had already suggested, as much as he hated waiting. "But there has to be something we can do," he muttered to himself.

"We can prep," she said gently. "We have the means to kill Olympians if we have to. Maybe we can do a little research of our own to expand that armory some."

Dean nodded in agreement. "I don't think it's wise to ask Ayden to poke around anymore in the future. There are too many variables. But I'd like to know if she has any visions."

"It sounds like that's what she's doing," Jo said. "She's pretty sensible, and she can't force a vision. She'll have to wait to have something come to her anyway."

"I wish we'd have kept Death's Scythe. That thing was awesome," Dean said, though he didn't really want to make an enemy of Death. It was the one weapon that seemed to trump all the others.

Jo raised a brow. "You could always ask for it back," she teased gently, but she knew full well that was only something they could do as a last resort.

"Yeah, I'm sure that would go over well," Dean said with a snort. He finished off what was left of his coffee before pushing to his feet. "I need to take a shower," he said, pausing a moment, a slightly lecherous grin on his face. "Care to join me?"

His invitation brought a smile to her face. "I think I could be persuaded," she agreed. "Care to persuade me?"

He reached for her hand to pull her to her feet, his arms sliding around her waist. "How much persuasion will it take?" he asked, still grinning.

"Oh, you know me," she murmured, looping her arms about his shoulders. "Push my buttons, and I'm putty in your hands." She grinned, lifting up onto her toes to brush that grin tenderly to his own.

"How much time do we have?" he asked, once he'd returned her kiss, taking his time to savor her lips. He knew the kids were at Bobby and Ellen's but how much longer were they expected to be there?

She glanced at the clock on the wall. "I think we've got another hour before they bring them back," she mused, her smile now becoming inviting as she tilted her head to him.

"You wash my back and I'll wash yours?" he teased, eyes bright with amusement and a little bit of something else. Jo might be with child, but that had never slowed their love life down.

"Now that sounds like a lot of fun," she admitted. "Can I wash your front too?" Eyes sparkling with mischievous desire, she winked at him.

"So long as I can wash yours," he said, touching another kiss to her lips, soft and teasing, before taking her hand to lead her toward the stairs. He peeked into the living room, but it looked like Bandit had tuckered herself out.

With the little dog passed out and snoring on the couch, and the children safely with Ellen and Bobby for the next hour or so, the Winchesters had leisure to just enjoy each other, savoring their closeness for a little while in absolute privacy. With trouble on the horizon, moments like this might become few and far between. It was a good idea to savor them.

Never let it be said that Dean and Jo didn't know how to make the most of every moment alone, knowing just how precious those moments were. They'd been given a second chance at life, and neither of them intended to waste it.

And no jumped up merman was going to destroy that second chance in a fit of pique, either. If Poseidon was out there looking for a fight, then the Winchesters would definitely provide it.

Disposable Heroes / Re: A Peek at the Future
« on: February 17, 2020, 06:02:55 PM »
"Oh, I know you will," she said with a grin. "Go on, pretty yourself up for the returning heroine." From upstairs, they could hear the cheerful barking of an over-excited puppy who was possibly being lifted out of the bath to be dried by now.

Sam grinned at his mother's remark before heading for the door. He could tell from the racket upstairs that his father had his hands full. "Tell Dad I'll talk to him soon!" he said, snagging his coat before heading out the door to rendezvous with his wife.

"Will do!" Jo chuckled to herself as Sam closed the door behind him, but the smile faded as she considered again what he had told her. Stroking her belly absently, she murmured, "Looks like your first years are going to be action-packed, kiddo."

The sound of a thump from somewhere upstairs signaled the fact that the dog's bath was officially over. The sound of paws thumping down the stairs was further proof, a ball of fluffy, wet fur with Dean in pursuit.

"Bandit, get back here! I haven't dried you off yet!" he called after the dog.

Rolling her eyes, Jo laughed, snagging a towel from the laundry pile and crouching to catch the wet puppy as she bounded into the kitchen and into her arms. "Look at you, all smelling of soap!" she crowed, letting the little dog lick her nose even as she rubbed the towel over the wet fur.

Dean came skidding into the kitchen after her, clothes soaked from the bath. He blew out an exasperated breath, hands on hips, but failing to look very stern. "There you are, you little troublemaker!"

Bandit gave him a rather wicked look from her towel-hug in Jo's arms, barking cheerfully in answer. Jo snorted. "Look at the state of you," she said in amusement. "Did you get in with her?"

"You don't want to see the bathroom," Dean grumbled. Summer couldn't come soon enough so he could give the dog a bath outside, where he didn't have to worry about her making a mess. "Where's Sam?" he asked, deciding Jo had Bandit well in hand and moving to pour himself a cup of coffee before he headed back upstairs to set the bathroom - and himself - to rights.

Chuckling, Jo lifted Bandit up and sat down at the table, drying the exuberant little puppy on her lap. "He's gone home to get his head on right before Becky gets home," she told her husband. "They've got some stuff to talk about."

Dean winced as he took a sip of his coffee, but not because the coffee wasn't to his liking. "That doesn't sound good," he said as he took a lean against the counter, perfectly happy to let Jo take over puppy duty.

"It was mostly good, but it sounds like something big is coming," she said, proceeding to fill Dean in with the pertinent details.

"Son of a bitch," Dean murmured, once Jo had filled him in. "Freaking Poseidon. Probably still jealous he didn't get to be King s*** of Turd Island," he said, putting it bluntly. "Why does it always seem like we get rid of one problem only to have to deal with another?"

"That's life?" she suggested, with a half shrug, gently lifting Bandit down onto the floor. "Go on, trouble, find a toy and have a nap." The little dog wagged her tail happily, trotting off into the living room to amuse herself. "Thing is, I think only Sam and Becky, and maybe Ayden, are going to be able to get any kind of hint about what's going on here. We're going to have to wait."

"That's not life, Jo," Dean disagreed. "That our life ... lives," he corrected. He watched as the furry, little troublemaker waddled off. "I don't like waiting," he grumbled, predictably. He was not the type to take a wait and see approach. He was much more accustomed to charging into action and letting the chips fall where they may, but this was Sam and Becky they were talking about. "Did he at least seem more confident about his place here?"

"He did," she nodded, leaning onto her arms. "You know, we're going to have grandkids in a few years' time. And our kids are going to go their own, by their own choice."

An unintentional grin flashed across Dean's face, followed by a more characteristic groan. "I'm too young to be a grandpa," he said, clearly referring to himself, not Jo. He knew it wasn't the little ones who would be giving them grandchildren any time soon so much as Sam and Becky. "Kid's gonna give me gray hair, I swear."

"Speak for yourself," she countered. "I'm looking forward to being a young gramma. He's kind of freaked out at the thought of not getting his kids, though. Like you were when you came back from your little sight-seeing trip."

Dean slid onto a chair across from her, fingers wrapped around the half-finished cup of coffee in his hand. "What do you mean?" he asked, brows furrowed. "Freaked out that something will change things and he won't be a father?"

"Yeah," she nodded. "He's worried that Becky's not going to survive whatever's coming."

"Well, we're just gonna have to make sure that doesn't happen," Dean said, as if that much went without saying. "Anyway, he didn't see what I saw. I saw a version of the future where the whole world was going to hell. Literally. Sounds like everything turned out okay in his version. That's a good sign, I think."

"I agree. And we know that something or someone is going to go after Becky, unlike last time. We can put some additional protections on her." Jo seemed fairly confident that everything was going to be fine.

"We will," Dean said, leaving no room for argument, even if Becky didn't like it. "You think anyone knows Sam took a peek at the future?" he asked. Anyone besides them, anyway. He wasn't even sure if Ayden would tell Ares, but they had no choice but to trust him. The God of War was his brother-in-law now.

"I would assume that Ayden has told Ares, but she is kind of the personification of seeing the future right now," Jo pointed out. "He's honorable enough that he wouldn't pass on anything without her say-so."

"He knows she'd kick his ass if he did," Dean murmured. Not literally maybe, but she certainly wouldn't be happy with him. Another thought occurred to Dean, but he was pretty sure he was over-reacting. "You think she's safe with him?" he asked, not for the first time. His sister was as good as immortal these days, but he worried what might happen if Poseidon found out Ayden was poking her nose into the future.

Disposable Heroes / Re: A Peek at the Future
« on: February 17, 2020, 06:02:40 PM »
Jo considered this thoughtfully. "You could ask her not to pursue it," she said, "but if you're right, and Poseidon is going after it, then ideally we need to get there first. Becky's probably the only person on the planet who has a good idea of where the second half of that key is, and where the door to Atlantis is."

"I don't get it, Mom. What's so important about a lost city? Unless ..." Sam trailed off. There were people who believed Atlantis had been destroyed in a war by some sort of powerful weapon. So, was Poseidon hoping to find the weapon for himself or keep it out of the hands of humans? Or was it something entirely different?

"I think you need to talk to Becky about it, baby," she said gently. "She's the expert. I'm just a hunter - I go where there's trouble and deal with it."

Talk to Becky and maybe do some research of his own. Maybe even talk to his great grandfather about it. He had a feeling Henry knew more than he was saying, but his mother was right - Becky was the expert.

Sam nodded his head, a glum expression on his face. "She's not gonna like it."

"She might prefer to be proactive," Jo pointed out. "Her involvement so far has been reactive - things have happened to her, not because of her. This would be a change from that."

"We'd have to be careful. Plan it all out. Maybe even get Ares and our other allies involved," Sam reasoned, though he wasn't too sure which of the Olympians he dared trust. He exhaled a sigh, glancing at his mug of coffee that was in danger of getting cold. "I wish I'd seen more."

"Honey, even if you had seen everything, there still wouldn't be any guarantee that it will happen exactly that way," his mother pointed out. "I honestly think it's better this way, You know enough to start looking into it without having all the specifics of something that might not happen."

"I can't lose Becky, Mom," Sam told her. "She's-she's everything to me." His mother had to know that already, but she hadn't seen the future. She hadn't a hint at the life they'd built together, the family they'd made together; and yet, if anyone understood, it would be his mother.

"Baby, you know we will do everything in our power to make sure she stays with you," Jo promised him. "Winchesters look after our family, and she's a Winchester. We'll fight with everything we have to help you both."

"I have no idea when this is going to happen, but it's sometime in the next few years," he told her. There wasn't much more to say about it really. What they needed to do now was gather information and plan.

"Then we start fortifying our position and looking for clues," she said firmly. "That's all we can do, for now. When we have something concrete, then we can start to make our moves."

"I may be spending a lot of time at the bunker," he confessed. It was going to take time doing the research, but he wondered something. "There has to be someone who remembers what happened." But it had to be someone they could trust.

"The only ones who would be the original six Olympians," Jo mused. "Well, five now. Zeus, Hera, Hestia, Demeter, and Poseidon. The others were being born during the war with the Titans."

"I'm not sure I trust any of them enough to ask," Sam admitted, frowning. He trusted Ares, but mostly because he'd known that particular Olympian all his life and he was married to his aunt, but he wasn't old enough to remember Atlantis.

"Maybe let Ayden see where her dreams take her for a while, then," she suggested. "And Becky might have a suggestion for which Olympian to focus on?"

Sam nodded again. "That sounds reasonable. Thanks, Mom," he said, a faint smile on his face. He could always count on her being able to help him talk things through, and even though he was still worried, he knew he and Becky weren't in this alone.

She smiled, shrugging one shoulder. "What else am I for, huh?" she teased, reaching out to squeeze the back of his neck fondly. "So are you staying for dinner, or are you going home to make yourself beautiful for your wife?"

"I thought I was already beautiful," Sam quipped, almost as if on cue, an amused smirk on his face before he turned serious. "Honestly? Would you mind if I went home? It's been a long day," he confessed, and he had a lot to think about before he presented all this to Becky.

"You'll always be my beautiful boy," she told him, and it was true. Even though she had not been the mother who bore him, she loved her eldest son deeply. "It's probably best if you go home and try to relax a little. I'll fill your Dad in."

"Okay, tell Dad I'm sorry," he said, moving to his feet to give his mother a hug. He knew his father would understand, but he hoped he wouldn't be too disappointed.

Rising, Jo wrapped Sam up in a warm hug, rising onto her toes to kiss his cheek. "I will," she promised. "It's going to be okay, Sam. We'll make sure of it."

"I know," Sam replied, a faint smile on his face, as he wrapped his arms around his mother to hug her close. He looked and felt tired all of a sudden, worried but hopeful. Nothing was going to happen today, anyway. There was still time to plan.

Jo nestled into his arms, happy to hug and be hugged for as long as Sam wanted to. Yes, there looked like there was trouble on the horizon, but even a little forewarning was a good thing. They had options, even now. "Try not to worry yourself too much, okay?"

"I'll try," he said, not making any promises. She knew him too well for him to do that. He would worry, but wouldn't just worry without doing anything about the situation. "I'll let you know anything changes," he promised.

"So will we," she assured him, drawing back with as reassuring a smile as she could muster. "Better get going before Bandit escapes your Dad and comes looking to cover you in water as well as mud."

Sam laughed at the visual that put in his mind, which wasn't impossible. "Yeah, I want to beat Becky home, if I can," he told her, pausing a moment to kiss her cheek before pulling away. "Thanks, Mom. We'll be in touch," he promised. They were never too far away anyway, unless they were in Kansas at the bunker, but even that was only a few hours’ drive.

Disposable Heroes / Re: A Peek at the Future
« on: February 17, 2020, 06:02:23 PM »
"Unexpectedly?" Sam echoed, unsure what she meant by that. "You're not peeking at my love life, are you?" he asked, nudging her playfully. He and Ayden had always been close, and that closeness seemed to have transcended to this timeline.

She snorted with laughter. "Hey, you don't like knowing that your wife is so impatient to be home with you that she's coming home a day early?"

"Oh," Sam mumbled, chuckling at his own misunderstanding. "So much for the surprise, I guess," he said, though he hardly minded. He'd missed her and getting a peek at their future had only made him miss her all the more.

"You're a good actor, you can convince her." Ayden grinned, glancing to the back door just as it burst open, and Bandit erupted into the kitchen, splattering muddy footprints across the floor to bounce up onto Sam's lap with a happy bark.

Sam laughed at the dog's antics. "Looks like I'll be changing my clothes, too!" he declared, his expression much brighter than it had been a short while ago. He'd gone on this journey to figure out what his place was in the family and had come back with far more.

Jo entered, sighing through a resigned smile. "I guess we're giving her a bath tonight, then," she said, looking at the paw prints on the floor. Her eyes scanned over to Sam, some tension in her relaxing to see him smiling easily. "Hey, little man. Welcome back."

Dean chuckled as he followed his wife into the kitchen. There wasn't much point in reminding her that their firstborn from the future was at least six feet tall. "How'd it go?" he asked, assuming Sam's little peek at the future was finished.

Ayden looked at Sam, smiling fondly. "I'll let you fill them in," she told him, moving to her feet. "I have a baby girl and an insane small boy to get back to before they drive their father through a wall."

"I'm pretty sure Ares can handle it," Sam remarked, a warm smile for Ayden as he moved closer to give her a hug. "Thanks again," he murmured. "We'll talk again soon." Very soon.

She hugged him in return. "I'll see if I can find anything," she murmured in answer, a promise to at least do a little searching of her own. Stepping back, she bounced over to Dean, planting a loud wet kiss on his cheek. "Any messages for the great beyond, Big Bird?"

Sam gave her a small nod of his head, just enough to acknowledge he'd heard her and understood, smiling in amusement as she bounced over to his father.

"Jesus, Ay ... I'm not a kid!" Dean scolded his sister mildly for the smooch, but was secretly enjoying the attention and affection. "If I have any messages, you'll be the first to know, okay?"

"I better be," Ayden teased her brother, hugging him briefly before spinning about to hug Jo as well. "You need me, you yell, okay? See ya, family peeps!" And just like that, she was gone.

Jo blinked, looking at her husband. "Still prefer her to Adam?" she asked in a teasing tone of her own.

"Absolutely!" Dean was quick to reply. He sighed, hands on his hips as he looked to the puppy who'd plopped down at his feet. "This little troublemaker needs a bath. Can you two hold down the fort without me for a while?" he asked of Jo and Sam.

"We'll just have to manage without you, somehow," Jo said, exaggerating her sigh. "However will we cope, little man? We'll be desolate without them, won't we?"

"Simply lost," Sam said, playing along.

Dean rolled his eyes at the two of them. "Try to stay out of trouble. I won't be long," he said, leaning over to scoop the sleepy puppy up in his arms. "We really should have named you Trouble," he murmured as he wandered off to clean the dog up.

Jo laughed, waving her husband away with the muddy dog as she pulled her coat off to hang it up. Her eyes flickered to Sam affectionately. "So?"

Sam's expression turned serious. "It's complicated," he said, turning to check the coffee pot, making himself right at home. "You want a cup?" he asked, assuming this might take a while.

"I am always at home to coffee," she said with a smile, though her eyes were serious in answer to his expression. "Milky, though. I shouldn't be having too much caffeine, apparently.

"I saw Johnny," Sam told her, regarding the child his mother was currently carrying inside her. Of course, it wasn't the first time he'd made mention of Johnny. He and Hope had left their little brother behind when they'd traveled back to the past, and this was the first time Sam had seen his brother since he'd left. Anna, on the other hand, was another matter.

Her hand went to the gentle curve of her three-month bump. "Really?" she asked, delighted to hear this. "How did he look? Did you see the girls and Bertie, too? What about you? Oh, and your dad, and Becky?"

"Yeah, I saw everyone," Sam remarked, frowning a little to himself as he poured them each a cup of coffee. Almost everyone anyway. "It was about twelve years into the future ... give or take," he told her.

"What was it like?" Jo asked, easing down into a seat at the table. "Were they happy?"

"Yeah, they were happy," Sam started. For the most part anyway. He went on to tell her everything he'd witnessed, leaving nothing out. He knew she wasn't going to like some of what she was going to hear, and it was kind of cheating telling her some of it, but he had never kept any secrets from his mother, and he wasn't about to start now.

If nothing else, Jo was a good listener. She let him tell it all, trying not to react too excitedly or concernedly at what she was hearing. When he came to the conclusion, though, she was smiling faintly. "Never stays peaceful for long, does it?" she mused, resting one elbow on the table to prop her chin on her hand. "So we need to do a little asking around, find out discreetly if anything weird is happening in the wider world."

"You don't think asking Becky to forget about Atlantis is an answer, do you?" Sam asked, already knowing the answer to that question. Whether this new threat was about Atlantis or not, they couldn't risk ignoring it and hoping it would just go away, all by itself.

Disposable Heroes / Re: A Peek at the Future
« on: February 17, 2020, 06:02:07 PM »
Sam blinked, taken aback by Ayden's outburst. What had he seen during his glimpse at the future? He'd seen a Sam that was an integral part of the family. A Sam that not only had a close bond to his mother and Hope, but to the entire family. A Sam who was not only a son and a brother, but a husband and a father. A Sam who was a little bit older and probably a whole lot wiser. A Sam who was teaching the future Hope and Bertie to hunt, with his parents' blessing. A Sam who had somehow sorted out his rightful place in the family. He envied that Sam, but that Sam was still him - just a future version of him.

"No, I saw more than that," he admitted, a little more subdued.

It was rare for Ayden to be stern and mean it, but it got through every time. She softened as he admitted to seeing more than just another mission. "And was it good?" she asked softly.

"Yeah, it was ..." Sam paused a moment, as if suddenly overcome with emotion and trying to fight it. "It was good. Better than good. I'm sorry I got angry. I'm just ... I'm worried about Becky. I-I think ... This is gonna sound crazy, but I think she's my destiny."

Ayden's smile returned, smaller but gentle, understanding that he was still in a little shock. "I can tell you one thing about Becky that did not happen because of you," she said quietly. "Would you like to know it?"

"I thought I came here for the family. I never planned on staying, and I never expected to meet someone like Becky," he confessed, his expression a mix of troubled and confused and just a little bit shocked. "Yeah, I'd like to know it," he confirmed.

"I told you I Saw everything that might happen," she said gently. "I Saw Becky go to Greece, alone, and I saw her killed by a Titan made of water when she opened the door to Atlantis. That didn't happen, because the way things turned out meant that she was here, with you, planning your wedding. You've already saved her life so many times, Sam. If she is your destiny, then you are hers."

Sam was quiet for a moment as he considered what she was telling him, a small furrow between his brows that betrayed his continued worry. "I have to save her again, Ayden. I have to keep saving her. I don't want to live without her," he confessed quietly.

"And you're not alone in that," she reminded him. "As soon as I See something concrete, I will tell you. Your parents are right behind you. Bobby and Ellen will do anything to protect our family. And, you know, my husband is the God of War. If you have something that needs whacking, just yell."

"This is big, Ayden. Becky said if I hadn't saved her, the world would have ..." Sam trailed off, something clicking in his brain, like two pieces of a puzzle finally falling into place. "Poseidon," he murmured. "It has to be."

"You need to be careful, then," she said. "He is very powerful, and he holds grudges for millennia. You can't move against him without proof of treachery, and you won't get that by forcing a confrontation. Be very careful, Sam."

"It's got something to do with Atlantis,” he told her, pretty sure of that. "But why would he care about that?" he asked, more to himself than to Ayden. He'd heard everything she'd said, but was deep in thought trying to sort this puzzle out.

"Your wife is the expert on Atlantis," Ayden pointed out. "Try not to freak her out, though, okay? And don't forget to tell your mom about the good things."

"I'm gonna need your help. This isn't something we can - or should - handle on our own," he told her. If only he'd heard more when he'd been there. He didn't even have a time frame for this, though he had a feeling it had happened before they'd had children.

"You'll have our help," Ayden promised him. "All of our help. Just don't rush into this without knowing everything you can, okay?"

"No, I won't," Sam promised, turning thoughtful again. "I think this is going to happen sooner, rather than later. Becky said something about it being a decade ago, so if I do the math, it's sometime in the next few years," he told her. He couldn't narrow it down better than that, but it was better than knowing nothing at all.

"So maybe it's time to start getting involved with Becky's studies on Atlantis and the Titans," she suggested. "She really is the only expert willing to talk about it. The Olympians don't ever mention Atlantis or the war with the Titans. Not even Ares."

"Or maybe it's better to forget about it and ask her not to bother trying to find it," Sam suggested, though he had a feeling Becky would never go for that - not after all the work she'd put into her research.

"Well, yeah, you could try that, too." Ayden didn't look as though she believed that would work. Becky had put so much work into researching and studying Atlantis; it would take something of monumental proportions to convince her not to pursue it to the bitter end.

"Whatever happened, it almost killed her," Sam said. And would have killed her if not for whatever he'd done to save her, not to mention saving the entire world from being drowned.

"But it didn't," she pointed out, patting his hand gently. "This is a conversation you need to have with her, kiddo. She might surprise you."

Sam chuckled at last at something she'd said. "Ayden, I'm almost as old as you are," he pointed out. Or nearly the same age. She'd been his elder in the future, but not anymore. Time had made them even.

She grinned at him, glad to see a smile appearing. "Get used to it, you're stuck with being kiddo for life," she informed him cheerfully. She tilted her head toward the back door at the sound of Jo and Dean arriving back with Bandit. "Sounds like it's almost my cue to get going again."

"That and 'Little Man'", he complained with a roll of his eyes. Those were nicknames for Bertie maybe, but not him. He was a grown man, after all. "Thanks, Ayden. And sorry I got angry," he told her earnestly.

"I'm not making excuses for Jo, just sticking to my own nicknames," she informed him, smiling. "I get it, Sam. You're right to be concerned, but you can't do anything until you've spoken to your wife. So tell your parents about the good stuff, and have fun welcoming Becky home unexpectedly tonight, okay?"

Disposable Heroes / Re: A Peek at the Future
« on: February 17, 2020, 06:01:51 PM »
She stared into his eyes, curling her hands to his face. "I love you," she said fervently. "If you hadn't decided to stay behind all those years ago, I'd be dead. Everyone I love would be dead. The whole world would be under water. And hardly anyone knows that it's all because of you."

"I have no regrets, Becky," Sam assured her. "If I hadn't stayed, I wouldn't have met you. I wouldn't have two great kids and another on the way," he said, laying a gentle hand against her belly, as if to prove his point. "My life would have been very different without you in it," he told her, leaning close to kiss her lips.

She smiled as he kissed her, the last of her remembered terror fading as she hugged him close. "I should go and reassure the kids," she said with a rueful cast to her smile. "I didn't mean to frighten them. Will you make sure Hope knows she's not to blame?"

"Yeah, I'll make sure," he told her, reluctant to let her go, his hand in a gentle caress of her belly before moving to her cheek with another soft kiss to her lips. "Love you, Becky," he whispered against her lips.

"Love you back," she whispered in return, breathing him in for a long moment. "You going to need to help me up, though. I think I sank down to the springs in this chair."

He chuckled as he helped her to her feet, one arm around her waist, as he escorted her into the kitchen to rejoin the family, leaving the watcher alone to contemplate what he'd just witnessed.

Whatever had happened, Becky clearly believed that if Sam hadn't been there, she would have perished - the whole world would have perished. It had to have something to do with her search for Atlantis, but he wasn't sure what had gone wrong. His future counterpart certainly didn't have any regrets about staying behind. It was almost as if he and Becky were meant to be together, and suddenly it hit him - Becky was the key. Staying behind had never really been about his parents or Hope at all. It had always been about Becky, even before he'd met her. As much as he loved his family, Becky was his reason for being. It was Becky who'd been his destiny all along.

As he came to this realisation, the room around him began to turn misty once more, his present reaching out to gather him back from this glimpse he had been given of the future ahead of him. His last sight was of Hannah and Matthew meeting his older self and Becky at the door to the kitchen, sharing a many-limbed hug, before fading from view entirely. He became aware of hands holding his, and slowly reality - his reality - returned to him. There was Ayden, holding his hands and looking into his eyes, both of them stood in the middle of the kitchen once more.

She smiled as he came back to himself. "Did you see what you needed to see?"

"No, no, no!" Sam groaned in obvious distress, feeling a little disoriented as the room came back into focus around him. "Ayden, it's too soon! You have to send me back," he pleaded, his eyes wild with panic.

Her grip on his hands tightened, her smile falling in concern. "Sam ... I can't, not for at least a day," she told him carefully. "You came back because you'd seen what you needed to see. It can't be that bad, surely?"

"Yes, it can," Sam said, looking worried - distraught even. He let go of Ayden's hands and started to pace the floor, as he tried to sort things out in his head. "Okay, no need to panic. Nothing's happened yet."

"Sam." Her voice was wary; of all the people he knew, Ayden was the one who might be able to spin the threads together and work out what was coming. "You need to tell me if the world has gone to s*** ten years from now."

"No," Sam replied. "We stopped it. I stopped it. Somebody stopped it." He turned back to Ayden, still looking worried, but not nearly as panicked. "I need to go back and find out what happened."

She shook her head. "No, you don't," she said, calm as always. "Because then it won't happen, but something else will, and there'll be no warning about it."

"What do you mean?" Sam asked, brows furrowed. He knew Ayden was an oracle. That was how she'd been able to give him a glimpse at the future. He also knew the future wasn't set in stone. He had proved them for himself when he and Hope had ventured to the past to help their parents defeat Hades, but he hadn't known Becky then. It wasn't his life that worried him, so much as hers and that of their future children. "Look, I know it all works out. At least, that's how I saw it, but what if it doesn't? What if something changes?"

"You remember how I told you that the future is fluid, but the container stays the same?" she reminded him in her gentle way. "That container holds the bad with the good. If you take away the bad, then there's not enough in the container. Something else has to fill it up."

"How can I take away the bad when I don't even know what the bad is yet?" Sam asked, a little flustered. He understood how it all worked, up to a point. It was in good part due to Ayden that he was here in this time period in the first place.

"You don't have to know right now," she told him, moving to guide him down into a seat. "The fact that it's over and dealt with in the moments you got to see? That means that you are on the path to finding it and dealing with it already. Okay?"

"Yeah, but ..." Sam started, still frowning for some reason.  "Becky's life is at stake, and if we don't do this exactly right, the whole world is gonna go to hell again," he told her. "Ayden, tell me ... We didn't screw things up by getting rid of Hades, did we? We didn't ... How did you put it? Take away one bad thing, only to let something else take its place?"

She held his gaze for a long moment. "You know I can't tell you that," she said quietly. "When I took the ambrosia, I Saw ... everything. Everything that might happen. I saw the best and the worst, and all I can do is hope that we follow the middle ground somehow. I don't know how it all connects, and I don't know what to tell you. I can't look and See what I'm expecting to find. It doesn't work like that."

Sam sighed, dragging a hand through his hair in frustration. He couldn't just sit and wait to see if the future played out the way it was supposed to or not. "There must be something we can do."

Ayden held his gaze in silence, almost stern in her expression. "Is that really all you've taken away from what you saw?" she asked, perhaps even a little offended that he had nothing but demands for more and anger at what none of them could change yet. "Look at who we are, the lives we lead. There is always something coming, Sam. Don't you dare tell me that you are going to use this as an excuse to keep holding yourself at arms' length from the family."

Disposable Heroes / Re: A Peek at the Future
« on: February 17, 2020, 06:01:32 PM »

"What am I, chopped liver?" Anna shot back to Matthew with a laugh. "I know moms don't count, but I'm not a mom!"

Hannah cackled with laughter, clambering up onto the armchair with Anna to hug her now her hair was all braided.

"You're not a girl," Matthew was quick to point out. "You're a teenager!" he said, whatever that meant.

The watcher Sam couldn't help but chuckle at his future's son's logic. He wasn't wrong exactly.

"So's Hope," Anna replied teasingly. "And Rob. Does that mean they're not girls either?"

Across the room, Becky snorted, rolling her eyes in amusement at the silly conversation going on around them.

"Don't be silly. Rob's not a girl," Matthew replied.

"Oh!" Johnny interrupted. "Is that the baby?" he asked, having felt some kind of movement beneath his hand.

"Unless I've got the Loch Ness Monster in there, that is definitely the baby," Becky assured Johnny cheerfully. "Strong, isn't it?"

Johnny wrinkled his nose. "What's the Lock Nest Monster?" he asked, uncertainly, nodding his head at her question. "I can feel him kicking me!" he declared with a grin. Like Matthew, he had chosen to use the masculine pronoun for the baby, though he wasn't really sure if it was a boy or a girl in there.

"There's a loch, a lake, in Scotland, where the local legend says a monster lives," Becky told him with a smile. "They call it Nessie, because the place is called Loch Ness."

"You remember that, Johnny, don't you?" Hope said, having heard the conversation as she walked through bearing a chair. Rob had apparently roped her into helping him. "The dinosaur in the lake?"

"Yeah, but Dad said it's not the kind of monster that we hunt 'cause it doesn't hurt anyone," Johnny said, remembering something his father had once told him.

Rob followed Hope with two chairs, one atop the other. "Then maybe it's not a monster," he remarked as he continued on to the kitchen.

"It's probably not even there," Becky added.

She might have gone on, but for something that seemed oddly significant to the group. Hope's jacket zip caught on the metal lip of the door handle, dragging along with a metallic zing of sound. Becky instantly stiffened, the color draining from her face as a look of absolute terror took her expression.

"Dad!" Hannah yelled, twisting toward the kitchen.

The Sam that was watching had no idea what was going on, but the Sam that was part of this timeline came rushing into the living room at his daughter's summons.

"What's the matter? Is it the baby?" he asked, looking on the verge of panic.

"My jacket caught on the doorframe," Hope told him, her face twisted with worry. It seemed as though this was some kind of trigger they all knew about. "I didn't mean to make the noise, I didn't!"

"It's okay," Sam assured his sister. "Why-why don't you all go see if dinner is ready?" he asked, the small group. Dinner was just about ready anyway, and he needed a moment alone with his wife.

"Sure," Hope agreed, looking to her twin. "We can do that, right?"

Anna nodded, already getting up to sweep up Matthew and Hannah under each arm. "C'mon, Johnny."

"But ..." Johnny started, frowning as he looked between Sam and Becky, a worried look on his face, before finally deciding it was probably better not to argue.

A moment later, Sam was kneeling in front of Becky, gently taking her hands in his. "Are you okay?" her asked her quietly.

It seemed to take a long moment, but slowly, Becky started to come back to herself, shaking as her eyes focused on her husband. "I'm sorry, I ... I just, I was back there, and the chain was so hot and I couldn't ... I couldn't get out ..."

"Shh, it's all right," Sam assured her, taking her into his arms and holding her close. "He can't hurt you anymore. He can never hurt you again," he reminded her in a soothing voice, as he held her close and rubbed her back.

Watcher Sam blinked in confusion and distress. Who had hurt Becky and why?

"I'm sorry," she was murmuring, even as she pressed into his arms, squeezing her eyes closed as the color slowly returned to her face. "I think I'm getting better, and then one little thing happens, and it all comes back. God, if you hadn't found me, Sam, everything would've ... I could have destroyed everything."

"It's not your fault," he assured her quietly, happy to hold her as long as she needed, or so it seemed. "You think I would have let that happen?" he asked her, his voice little more than a whisper. "You think any of us would have let that happen?"

She shook her head in agreement, drawing back slowly. "I'm okay," she promised him. "I just ... the noise surprised me, and ..." She trailed off, raising her hand to rub at the scar on the back of her neck.

"I know, baby," he murmured gently. "I know it's gonna take time, but you're safe now. I'm never gonna let anything happen to you ever again," he assured her, drawing back so that she could see the look of sincerity on his face.

Disposable Heroes / Re: A Peek at the Future
« on: February 17, 2020, 06:00:51 PM »
"You're not mad?" Hope asked, biting her lip as she looked at her father. Evidently Jo was the easier sell on hunting, or perhaps she was just waiting to get scolded by her mother later, in private. Right now, Dean was the focus of her concern.

"If I get mad, would you stop?" Dean asked his daughter.

"We're Winchesters, Dad. It's in our blood. It's in Mom's, too. For what it's worth, I don't think you have to worry about Anna," Sam told his parents. "Maybe not Johnny either."

"I don't want to disappoint you," Hope said quietly. "But I'm not going to college. I'm not going to be smart like Anna and Johnny and Rob. I'm good at hunting. It comes easy, and ... well, it makes the world safer, right?"

Jo sighed. "Well, I'm not going to say I'm happy about it, but I understand, probably better than you think. No more secrets, okay?"

"You could never disappoint me," Dean assured his daughter, moving over to give her a hug, despite the engine grease. "You are your father's daughter," he said, with a proud smile. Or her mother's. It hardly mattered which.

"Okay." Hope went into Dean's hug with obvious relief, smiling over at her mother as well.

Jo's smile was a little resigned, but she nodded, nudging the older Sam. "Same goes for you, by the way," she added. "You're not supposed to be keeping secrets from me. I always find out."

"Should I tell you what I'm getting you for your birthday then?" Sam teased even though her birthday was a long way off yet. The smirk on his face that was a little too reminiscent of his father.

Dean smooched Hope's cheek before pulling away. "And I expect you to keep her safe," he warned, waggling a finger at Sam.

"Dad, I can keep myself safe," Hope grumbled. "Didn't I just tell you I'm good at this?"

Jo snorted with laughter, smacking at Sam with her wooden spoon. "You two are incorrigible."

"Uh huh ... What's the first rule of hunting?" Dean asked his daughter.

Sam smirked as he drew his hand away, shrugging. "Runs in the family," he said, reaching around his mother to snag a snack, just like his younger counterpart had done a few minutes earlier.

"Saving people, hunting things," Hope answered with a grin. "Sam's a good teacher. Besides, Bertie-boy always has my back."

"He'll kill you if he hears you call him that, you know," Jo pointed out in amusement.

Dean chuckled at his daughter's answer. "Okay, what's the second rule of hunting?"

"Never hunt alone," Sam volunteered, with a pointed look at Hope.

"I was asking Hope!" Dean said, exhaling in exasperation. "Okay, this has been fun, but I gotta go wash up before your mom kicks my ass."

"And it's such a lovely ass, it would be a shame to kick it," Jo added.

Hope, predictably, pulled a disgusted face as she headed out of the kitchen to go and say hi to her cousins, once again leaving Jo and the older Sam alone in the kitchen with their unseen observer.

"The feeling is mutual," Dean remarked, waggling his brows at his wife before heading for the bathroom to wash up.

The invisible watcher that was Sam smiled at the flirtatious banter going on between his parents. Nothing much had changed there anyway. It was no surprise to him that his older counterpart been teaching Hope and Bertie to hunt. Nothing that he'd seen so far had been much of a surprise except for one thing and that had more to do with Hope than anyone else. Sam made his way to the living room, where the rest of the family had gone to get out of Jo's way.

It seemed as though Becky was holding court, or had been forcibly sat down, laughing as the youngest boy in the group poked at her pregnant belly just to feel the baby within kick back.

"You should be gentle with your Mom, you know," Anna was saying, though she was smiling, absently looping intricate braids through the hair of the youngest girl.

"I am bein' gentle," the youngest whose name was Matthew insisted, a little defensively. "Sometimes the baby kicks me back, don't he, Mama?"

Johnny was quietly sitting to the side and watching the interplay between the small family. "What's it feel like when he kicks you?" he asked, a little shyly.

"It doesn't hurt," Becky assured him, patting her belly gently. "You wanna come feel?"

Now he got a better look at her, Sam could see that this older Becky had a scar along the back of her neck, as though something long and thin had burned her skin so badly some years ago that the mark would never fade.

"Can I?" Johnny asked hopefully. He'd been the youngest born to Dean and Jo and his only experience with babies was with Becky and Ayden.

The watcher who was Sam had not only noticed the scar on the back of Becky's neck, but the fact that she was no longer wearing the red pendant around her neck that she was never without.

"I wouldn't offer if you couldn't," Becky told the boy with a grin. "C'mere." She reached out to take his hand, guiding his palm to the best place to feel the baby kicking inside her.

"Do I look pretty now?" the youngest girl asked, and Anna grinned at her.

"Hannah, you're the prettiest girl in the room."

Johnny followed Becky's instructions, allowing her to guide his hand to her belly, looking very solemn as he waited to feel something. Meanwhile, Matthew giggled at something Anna had said.

"She's the only girl in the room!" he pointed out, not counting the grown girls anyway.

Disposable Heroes / Re: A Peek at the Future
« on: February 17, 2020, 06:00:32 PM »
"Still a half hour to dinner," Jo announced. "Everyone out of the kitchen!" She waved a hand, but caught the older Sam's sleeve in her fingers. "Not you, little man."

"Oops, looks like Dad's in trouble," Becky said teasingly, helping to herd the children out of the kitchen with a blown kiss to her husband. Aside from a little more maturity and the pregnancy, the only thing different about Becky was the lack of the familiar red pendant about her neck.

Sam skidded to a halt beside his mother, brows arching upwards, while the gaggle of kids hightailed it out of the kitchen.

"What am I in trouble for now?" he asked, not so much as batting an eye at her address of him. It seemed he'd gotten used to her calling him by that nickname, even though he towered over her these days.

"No trouble," Jo assured him. "I just got a question." She glanced toward the door, as though making sure no one was listening in, and still lowered her voice a little. "Is Hope hunting?"

Sam winced at the question, though it was probably inevitable. They never could keep any secrets from their mother for long, and she knew him well enough to know he was incapable of lying to her.

"Why don't you ask her?" he asked in return, though he had a feeling she wasn't going to take that for an answer.

"Because I don't want to put her in the position of lying to my face," Jo told him calmly. "She's terrible at it, and it would only end in an argument. If she is hunting, I want her to be safe doing it, at the very least, and Anna has noticed her clothes are getting bloodied. You two are close. Is she hunting?"

Sam frowned. "You're not gonna like it," he warned, though he knew they were going to have to fess up at some point. "I've been teaching her. Rob, too," he confessed, steeling himself for his mother's ire. "Mom, I know you don't want her hunting, but it's in her blood. And she's good at it."

Jo sighed, seeming to sag a little in place. "No, I don't want them hunting," she said quietly. "But they're too much like your dad and me. I won't stop them, but I want them to be safe doing it. And to stop keeping it a secret. Okay?"

"I made them promise they wouldn't go out alone, and I told them that if they didn't tell you and Dad soon, I would," he told her. "I promise I won't let them get hurt," he assured her further, leaning close to kiss her cheek.

"All right." She smiled faintly as he kissed her cheek. "I know you'll protect them." She paused, seeming to gather herself again. "How are you doing? Are Becky's dreams still getting better?"

"It's gonna take a while, but she's doing better," he said, frowning in obvious concern. Better, but not back to normal, apparently.

The unseen watcher couldn't help but wonder what they were talking about. What had happened? Was Becky having nightmares, and if so, why?

"I know it seems as though it's been a long time, baby, but it was a very traumatic experience," Jo told Sam's older self. "I don't even want to think about what might have happened if you hadn't been there."

"I don't either," Sam admitted quietly, with that frown still on his face. "Let's just be glad it all turned out okay. And don't worry about Hope and Rob. I'll make sure nothing happens to them," he assured her once again, shrugging out of his coat and turning to hang it near the door.

The Sam that was watching wished someone would mention what it was that had happened, even if it was cheating to know in advance.

"You know, I'm not that worried about Rob," Jo admitted ruefully. "It's Hope that worries me. She keeps so much to herself. But she's good at hunting? She doesn't take stupid risks?"

"Mom, you do realize she's just a younger version of the Hope that came here with me, right?" Sam asked, reminding her that the Hope that had come with him from the future had been a very competent hunter.

She rolled her eyes. "I know," she said, "but I didn't really know that Hope. I don't feel like I know this one, to be honest, but I'm glad she talks to you. Didn't I tell you she'd still be your best bud?"

"You know what the problem is?" Sam said, an amused smile on his face. "She's just like you," he said, nudging her arm playfully. "And to be honest, she's Rob's best bud, not mine. I'm more like an uncle than an older brother," he pointed out.

She narrowed her eyes, but smiled, rather proud of that, it seemed. "You're still the one she goes to when she needs someone," she reminded him. "And you're the one who taught her how to pick locks. Don't think I missed that."

"She's a natural!" Sam declared, smiling proudly. "Be glad she's a hunter and not a cat burglar," he teased.

"Who's a hunter?" said Dean as he pushed in through the back door, wiping the grease from his hands on a rag. Apparently from the look of him, he'd been tinkering with an engine.

Behind Dean, Hope was just visible, catching the end of the conversation and her father's addition. She went absolutely still, her eyes wide and suddenly pleading as she looked over at Sam.

Jo, on the other hand, was smiling. "Your daughter, princess."

"Hope?" Dean asked, wiping his hands clean. "I know. Or at least, I suspected," he said, correcting himself.

"You knew?" Sam asked, chuckling to himself. "Of course, you did."

"You did?" Hope looked dumbstruck for a moment, looking between her parents in astonishment. "Why didn't you say anything?"

Dean shrugged. "I was waiting for you to come clean," he told her - or so he claimed. "Did you really think you could sneak around hunting behind my back and I wouldn't notice?"

Disposable Heroes / Re: A Peek at the Future
« on: February 17, 2020, 06:00:07 PM »
"Sorry, it was kinda spur of the moment," Rob explained, reaching over to snag some vegetable or other she was chopping up to munch on. "I didn't forget. You know Mr. Edwards in town? He asked if I want to apprentice with him this summer."

She smacked his hand with the flat of the blade she was using to chop, smiling at the cheeky grab for food. "At least wash your hands before you start stealing food," she informed her eldest born. "Do you want to apprentice with him? You haven't managed to hold down even a weekend job yet, and this would be every day in summer."

Rob smirked as his mother smacked his hand, but didn't look very apologetic. "I know what I don't want," the teen replied, moving over to scrub his hands in the kitchen sink. "I don't want to go to college, and I don't want to join the Men of Letters," he said, proving he was more like his father than his elder counterpart.

"I still say you should talk to Becky and Sam about that," Jo told him. "They negotiated a way for Becky to be a part of the Men of Letters without being stuck in that bunker for the rest of her life, after all." Evidently she wasn't going to push for college, though. "What can you tell me about Colin Harrington?"

Rob scowled a little, but didn't bother to contradict his mother. "Colin Harrington?" he echoed. "The varsity high school quarterback? He's a dick, why?" he asked, as he went to the fridge to rummage around for a soda.

"See?" Hope commented from the table, but Anna was ignoring the entire conversation by this point, released from her scolding by Dean to go and start her homework with her siblings.

Jo rolled her eyes. "Good to know," she said, nodding to Rob. "So what are your plans for this evening?"

"No plans," he replied. "Just having dinner with the family," he told her, with a cheesy grin as he cracked open a soda. "Why the questions about Harrington?" he asked, narrowing his eyes at his sisters. "Did he make a move on you?" he asked.

"He asked Anna on a date!" Johnny was quick to inform his elder brother.

"Did he?" Rob echoed, looking to Anna. "Tell him no. He's a dick. He's got a list of conquests longer than Ghengis Khan."

"Whozzat?" Johnny asked.

"He's been really nice to me," Anna said defensively. "And you can't tell me who to date, not after you dated that skin-changer."

Hope choked on a mouthful of her soda, fighting not to spray it all over her homework as she laughed at her twin's comeback to their big brother's orders.

"He was a very famous conqueror centuries ago who had a lot of wives," Jo told Johnny, carefully skimming around how the Khan got those wives.

"I didn't know she was a skin-changer when I asked her out," Rob replied in his own defense. "And of course, he's gonna be nice to you. You wouldn't go out with him if he was mean, would you? That doesn't mean he won't try and take advantage," he reasoned.

"What's that mean? Take advantage?" Johnny asked, further. He was the baby in the family, after all.

"It means he wants to add Anna to his list of conquests," Rob explained, though from the look on Johnny's face, he still didn't quite understand.

"It means he doesn't keep a girlfriend for more than a week," Jo told Johnny, sending a warning look to Rob and the girls. "And I think that's enough of this conversation, anyway. Rob, can you get the extra chairs out for me please? Hope, go find your dad. Sam will be here any second."

Rob frowned almost apologetically at his sister. "Sorry, Anna," he murmured, before going off to wash up for dinner and procure some extra chairs. Johnny got up from his chair, too, gathering up his books and papers so they could set the table for dinner.

"Sure, Mom." Hope got up to go and find Dean, leaving Anna at the table to help Johnny tidy up and set the places.

"Hey, Mom?" she asked suddenly. "Did you see Hope's t-shirt last night?"

Jo frowned, looking over at her daughter. "What do you mean, sweetie?"

Johnny cringed at Anna's question, but added nothing to the conversation. He only went about feeding the small menagerie of Winchester pets while his sister helped set the table.

"It was kinda bloody," Anna said, looking awkward as she glanced at Johnny, finding no help from that quarter. "She came to bed kinda late, too. I don't know, I think maybe she got hurt yesterday."

"I'll talk to her later," Jo told Anna, offering her a reassuring smile. Only the unseen watcher could tell that smile was disguising a sudden spike of worry.

If Johnny had noticed anything, he wasn't saying. The watcher that was Sam noticed the look on his mother's face and immediately knew what was going on. Whether this was his Hope or not, he knew her better than anyone and knew she must be hunting, probably without her parents' knowledge. Before he could contemplate that further, another car pulled up outside, car lights shining in the window.

"They're here!" Johnny exclaimed excitedly.

"Well, you better go and greet them like the fine host you are, then!" Jo told her youngest son, waiting until he was out of the kitchen before resting a hand on Anna's arm. "Don't worry too much, okay? I think I know who I can ask who will give me an honest answer. Thank you for telling me, though."

"Yay!" Johnny shouted as he hurried to the door to greet their guests.

It wasn't long before Sam was looking at his own face again - this time a little older. Becky, too, was a little older and round with pregnancy. Johnny was chattering excitedly with his cousins - a girl and a boy who looked a few years younger than the Winchesters' youngest.

Disposable Heroes / Re: A Peek at the Future
« on: February 17, 2020, 05:59:50 PM »
Dean ruffled his son's hair before moving away to finish unpacking the rest of the groceries. Whether he'd overheard Jo's whisper or not, he said nothing about it.

Johnny smiled and nodded again. "Okay," he said, looking a little relieved.

"Where's your brother?" Dean asked. "He's the math wiz."

"Oh, um ... I think he had a date or something," Johnny replied with a shrug.

Dean exchanged a glance with Jo. "In the middle of the afternoon?" he asked.

Jo raised a brow. "Let me text him quick," she suggested, rising to grab her phone and do just that. "It's not like him not to let us know where he'll be."

A clatter on the porch, and the sound of female voices announced the imminent arrival of two more members of the family. Johnny scrambled down from the chair, not to greet his sisters so much as the family dog, throwing the door open and greeting Bandit with a gentle hug.

"Hey, Bandit. Did you have a good walk? Would you like a treat?" he asked, gently rubbing his fingers through her fur.

The elderly dog licked his cheek, moving awkwardly into the kitchen just ahead of the three younger dogs, who bounded in and went straight for Dean. Jo snorted with laughter, starting to put together the promised cocoa as she glanced over at the door, where twin girls were walking in.

Hope was instantly recognizable to the unseen watcher; familiar dress sense just like their mother's, blonde hair pulled into a low tail. Anna was the unknown factor in this, and it seemed she was going to grow up into a slightly more feminine Hope, preferring loose hair and dresses, glasses on her nose.

"Hey, Mom," Anna called, leaving Hope to close the door. "Colin asked me to a party on Saturday - can I go?"

Behind her, Hope rolled her eyes. "He just wants to put his hand up her skirt."

Dean's expression darkened. "No one's putting their hand up my daughter's skirt," he said, with a pointed look at Anna. Jo's phone buzzed, presumably in answer to her text.

Meanwhile, Johnny was rifling through the cupboard for something while calling over, "Mom! I can't find the doggie treats!"

"That's because there aren't any left," Dean remarked, snagging a box of them from a grocery bag and tossing them over to Johnny.

"But Daddy, he's really nice, and he's been nothing but a gentleman," Anna said, briefly glaring at Hope, who just shrugged, apparently not interested in boys at all just yet.

"He's a dick," Hope offered.

"Who's a dick?" Jo asked absently, looking up from her phone.

"Anna's crush," Hope answered. "Grade A Jock, prime beef material."

"You shut up," Anna countered. "Just because no one looks twice at you, you don't have to be snarky!"

"All right, all right, all right! That's enough!" Dean shouted, falling just short of whistling to get their attention. "Just because he's a jock doesn't mean he's a dick," he said in answer to Hope's remark, before turning to Anna. "Anna, if you really like this boy, why don't you bring him by to meet us," he said. It wasn't a question. Obviously, Dean and Jo would decide whether the boy in question was or was not a dick. "And apologize to your sister. In fact, both of you apologize to each other."

The two girls looked at each other for a moment. Hope was the one who gave in first. "Sorry, Anna," she apologized, shrugging one shoulder. "I just don't think he's going to treat you right."

Anna frowned. "I'm sorry I said no one looks twice at you," she apologized in turn. "The real reason you don't have a boyfriend is because you're weird."

Jo sighed. "That's not an apology, Anna," she began, but Hope brushed it off.

"It's fine, Mom," she said. "I've got homework. Hey, Johnny, can I come set up next to you?"

"Why's he a dick?" Johnny asked, from where he was feeding the dogs treats.

"Johnny! That's enough. You don't want to make them sick!" Dean scolded, snatching the box back from the boy before it was empty. "Hope, can you help your brother with his homework, please? Anna, a word," Dean said, pointing a finger at the other room.

Sam watched this organized chaos with amazement and amusement, but he still wasn't sure what it was he was supposed to be taking away from all this.

Rolling her eyes, Anna moved into the other room, leaving Jo to corral Johnny and Hope affectionately in the kitchen. The sibling dynamic was always a slightly rocky one, it seemed; no one appeared to find anything odd in the way Hope and Anna interacted with each other.

Maybe it was just the fact that his parents were raising what appeared to be a perfectly normal American family, despite their rocky start. He watched as Dean followed Anna out of the room, while Hope got down to business helping Johnny with his homework. For all he could tell, there was nothing out of the ordinary going on. It's what he and Hope had come back to ensure, but he'd yet to see any of them to interact with himself or his younger counterpart. He didn't have to wait long though before an engine was heard rumbling outside the house, which was soon followed by a leather jacket-clad, younger-looking version of himself shoving in through the back door.

"Hi, Mom! Sorry I'm late," the afore-named Bertie said, moving over to kiss Jo's cheek.

"Next time, tell me in advance," Jo answered, smiling as he kissed her cheek. "Nice date?" By now, she was working on dinner - more than might have been expected, even with their big family. "Don't forget, Sam and Becky are coming over for dinner."

Disposable Heroes / Re: A Peek at the Future
« on: February 17, 2020, 05:59:22 PM »
"Unless something world-changing happens, the broad strokes will stay the same," she told him with confidence. "Trust me on this. The future is fluid, but so long as nothing happens to crack the container, it stays recognisable."

"Okay, so what do I need to do?" he asked, feeling a little awkward standing there and not knowing what was expected of him. Was he supposed to lie down and go into a trance of some sort or what?

She smiled. "Just trust me. And don't worry about getting back - all that takes is you deciding to return." Taking both his hands into hers, she concentrated, feeling her way through the spell she and Clotho had worked on together to make this happen as seamlessly as possible.

For Sam, the world seemed to change, growing misty all around him until the familiar kitchen was obscured by shifting smoke and vague figures. Slowly, Ayden's hands faded from his grasp, and eventually, the mists began to clear as well. He found himself in his parents' kitchen still, looking almost the same but for a few changes here and there, and at the kitchen table was a boy he hadn't seen in several years, scowling at homework spread out on the table in front of him.

Sam watched with rapt attention and more than a little wonder as the kitchen faded from view and then reappeared again as he seemed to travel through the mists of time. He couldn't explain how the spell worked or how he found himself there, but there was no denying what he was seeing and hearing.

"Johnny?" he said, upon seeing his little brother there before him. He hadn't realized until that very moment just how much he'd missed him.

The boy didn't react to Sam's inquiry, but just kept scribbling in a notebook, as if he wasn't there. He looked no more than eleven or twelve, focusing hard on the work in front of him as he scrawled notes to write up more neatly later. A sleek black cat jumped up onto the table to rub against his hand as he wrote, heralding the arrival of another familiar face - Jo, older, a little rounder perhaps, but looking more like the mother Sam himself remembered.

"Hey, little man, how's it going?" she asked the boy, absently ruffling his hair as she walked past to put grocery bags on the counter.

"I hate math," the boy grumbled, scowling at the way his mother ruffled his hair, even though he privately liked the way she showed her affection for him. It was his homework he was frustrated with, not his mother. "Neo, come on! I'm trying to do my homework!" he told the cat, though he really wasn't too upset about the interruption.

"You and me both," Jo agreed easily enough. "But you need it to pass the year and move up, so suck it up. If you need help, we can get Becky over to cheat you through it." She paused in unpacking the groceries. "Where are your sisters?"

"They took Bandit for a walk," the boy explained, setting his pencil down on the table and looking up at his mother. "They said it's getting harder for her to walk now. Is she gonna be okay?" he asked, obviously worried about the aging family pet. Bandit had been part of the family for as long as he could remember. The dog was even older than he was.

Jo looked sad for a moment. "She's an old lady, Johnny," she explained sadly. "It's not going to be long before we have to say goodbye to her. But she's been a very good friend. When it comes to it, we'll give her the best last day ever. Okay?"

"But I don't want to say goodbye," Johnny said, blinking back tears. Everyone in the family knew how much Johnny adored that dog and how close they'd become, but it was Dean who was probably going to have the hardest time saying goodbye.

"What are we talking about?" Dean said, as he stepped into view, moving to help Jo unload groceries. Like Jo, Dean looked a little older, with a little gray at his temples, but he still had a full head of hair and was sporting a short beard.

"Bandit," Jo told Dean, leaving the counter to go and sit down next to Johnny. "Baby ... death is a part of living. Without it, we wouldn't live the lives we're given. All we can do is the best that we can, with the time that we have. Bandit's had a good life; a longer life than a lot of other dogs get. And she's given us pups to raise and keep, too. I know it hurts. I'll miss her when she's gone. But it would be cruel of us to keep her when she's ready to go, too."

"I don't want her to be in pain," Johnny admitted, his expression betraying the sadness he must be feeling.

Dean looked sad, too, as he unpacked the groceries, but remained silent for the moment.

"Exactly." Jo gently stroked Johnny's hair out of his eyes. "She's given us a lot of happiness over the years, and that's what we'll remember when she's gone. Okay?"

"Can I go with you, when the time comes?" Johnny asked, that sad look still in his eyes.

Dean looked over at his wife and son, brows arching upwards in surprise. "If you really want to," he said, "but it won't be easy."

"But Bandit would like it," Jo pointed out to Dean. "The three of you are very close. I think she'd like to have both of you there when she goes to sleep for the last time."

Johnny's bottom lip wobbled, looking like he was trying very hard not to burst into tears. Dean abandoned the groceries joined Jo beside their son.

"It's okay to be upset," Dean assured him. "You're allowed to be sad. It's part of being human."

"But she won't be leaving us alone," Jo added. "We've got Helios, and Star, and Cas, as well as Neo. It's okay to be sad, baby. We're all going to be sad together for a while."

Johnny nodded, sniffling back tears. Was it really the homework that was bothering him or the worries he had about Bandit's aging?

"How about I make us some hot cocoa?" Dean suggested. "And then, we'll work on your homework together."

"That sounds like a great idea," Jo agreed with a smile, leaning in to stage whisper to Johnny, "And I won't let him burn it this time, I promise."

Disposable Heroes / Re: A Peek at the Future
« on: February 17, 2020, 05:54:09 PM »
"It's all about the timing," Dean told his sister, as Bandit danced around her people with renewed energy, tail wagging happily as she searched for attention.

"I can't believe you got a puppy. Aren't you guys busy enough?" Sam asked, shaking his head and chuckling to himself.

Dean scooped said puppy up from the floor and snuggled her in his arms. "How could anyone resist this face?" he said, holding her close enough to get his face properly licked.

"Remind me to introduce you to Ares' dog sometime," Ayden drawled in amusement, settling down into a seat at the kitchen table comfortably. She looked over at her nephew. "Not a social call?"

"No, thanks! I'm good!" Dean remarked, thoroughly enjoying the puppy kisses. He knew Bandit would eventually grow into a full-size dog, but he wasn't worried about it. She was no hell hound - just a furry bundle of hyperactive love.

"Nice to see you, too, Ayden," Sam said, moving over to give his aunt a hug. It was just weird calling her aunt when she wasn't much older than he was.

"How are you doing, kiddo?" Ayden asked Sam warmly, hugging him back. They might not have the same bond he remembered them having from his childhood, but there was a connection between them even now.

"I'm okay. Missing Becky, but she'll be back soon enough," Sam replied honestly. He'd been close to both Ayden and Ares when he'd been a boy, but they were only just starting to form that bond with Bertie. "I'm not really sure this is necessary," he confessed, feeling a little embarrassed at all the attention.

Dean looked from Sam to Ayden, a thoughtful frown on his face. "You don't need us, right?" he asked, thinking it might be easier on Sam if he and Jo didn't witness what Ayden was about to put him through

"Sooner than that," Ayden said absently. "She'll be back tonight. She's as impatient as you are to get back in the sack."

Jo smirked, rolling her eyes. Ayden's occasional declarations of what was about to happen in their everyday lives could be embarrassingly amusing at times.

Ayden tilted her head toward Dean. "No," she assured her brother. "It's probably best you're not here. Take the dog for a walk or something."

Dean rolled his eyes and mumbled, "Show off." Just because his sister was a seer didn't mean she had to constantly remind them of that fact. "Just make sure you keep your scrying eyes away from our bedroom," he scolded playfully. "Let us know when you're finished, okay?" he asked, starting back toward the door with the puppy in his arms.

Ayden stuck her tongue out at her brother, but it was Jo who spoke, pausing to give Sam a gentle hug.

"We'll see you soon, okay?" she assured him. "Take your time to see what you need to see. We'll be here."

Sam nodded to his mother, grateful for the hug. Dean wasn't quite sure what to say. Should he wish his son good luck? Give him a hug? In the end, he decided to let Jo speak for them both, not wanting to embarrass Sam further. If there as anyone he trusted to be gentle with his son, it was Ayden. He was sure the kid was in good hands. He offered a nod to them both and then he disappeared out the door.

"Why is everyone acting like this is such a big deal?" Sam asked, once his parents were gone.

"Because it is a big deal to you, even if you aren't ready to admit it," Ayden told him. "And because we love you, and we want you to be happy. Family's weird, Sam. My brothers killed each other so that the beings possessing them wouldn't kill me - it had nothing to do with the world at large, not in that moment. Our family will always be the most important thing in our hearts, and you are a part of that family."

"Yeah, but I don't understand how seeing the future is going to change anything," he confessed. He'd agreed to this, mostly because his mother had thought it would be good for him, but he didn't really understand how it was going to change anything.

"I do," Ayden said, but that was all she said on that matter. Being the Olympian representation of truth and Sight, she could not deliberately tell a lie, nor could anyone lie to her. But that didn't mean she couldn't keep some things to herself. She rose to her feet, offering him her hand. "Do you want to do this, Sam?"

"Mom seems to think it would be good for me," Sam said, hesitating a moment before taking Ayden's hand and moving to his feet. He wasn't sure how this worked or what she needed from him.

"That's your mom's opinion," she pointed out. "I need your consent, or we don't do this. I won't ever cast a spell on you without your full knowledge and consent."

"She said I'd just be an observer. That I can't talk to anyone or change anything," Sam said, needing to know the rules and limitations of the spell.

"She's right." Ayden nodded. "You'll be a visitor. No one will be able to hear you or see you or feel you. You'll be able to pass through walls and doors if you need to. Kind of like astral projection, you know?"

"And you think this will help me feel better about my decision to stay here?" he said, as if asking for a second opinion.

"Personally? I think it will help to ground you in the here and now, give you a feeling of belonging that you're missing right now," she told him. It was obvious that she and Jo had discussed this at length before it was ever brought to Dean.

"But the future is fluid, Ayden," Sam pointed out. "All you can show me is what the future is most likely to be at any given moment. If you showed me the same thing in a few months, it might be totally different," he reasoned, though he couldn't imagine anything that would change it that drastically.

Disposable Heroes / Re: A Peek at the Future
« on: February 17, 2020, 05:53:52 PM »
If the future went the way Sam expected - which it didn't always do - the baby his mother was now carrying inside her would be his little brother Johnny. He didn't need a peek at the future to know that.

"How are you feeling?" he asked of his mother.

She looked over at him, glancing down at her bump for a moment before looking back to meet his eyes with a warm smile. "Tired, but that's par for the course," she told him. "I'll perk up a bit in the next month or so. And then I get the joy of heartburn!"

"Thank God men can't get pregnant," Sam remarked with a grin, hoping he wasn't jinxing himself with that thought. Nothing was ever certain, so long as there were supernatural beings around who might be tempted to toy with the laws of nature.

"Just you wait until you and Becky decide to go through it," his mother warned in amusement. "If your dad is anything to go by, you're going to feel every second of it yourself while she's going through it."

"Let's hope I don't feel the morning sickness," Sam said, before pausing to drain his coffee and take it over to the sink. "What do you think I'm gonna see?" he asked, sounding just a little fearful about the future.

Jo considered this for a moment, resting her hip against the counter as she watched him. "I think you're going to see ..." She sighed. "The family you should have had, with both your parents, and your siblings, intact and getting on with their lives. And I think you're going to see where you fit in those lives, because right now I think you still see yourself as an outsider looking in. I'm certain you won't be that."

Sam blinked, obviously surprised at the astute response from his mother, but then what had he expected? Other than Becky, she knew him best - even this version of Jo, it seemed. "You know what? I had great parents. Brave parents. I had a brother and sister I adored. Not a day goes by that I don't miss them, but they're right here. They're just ... different."

Her smile was a little bittersweet in answer. "I know what you mean," she said quietly. This Ellen wasn't her mother, and never would be, but she was still Mom in a way that transcended all the differences.

But his siblings were different because they were growing up in a world that no longer had Hades in it and where the various factions were not at each other's throats - at least for now.

"That doesn't mean I don't love them," Sam was quick to point out. "I'm just saying they're different." He wasn't growing up with them either, as he was already grown. "I knew what I was doing when I decided to stay," he assured her. "I just thought maybe I'd be of more use here," he added with an uncertain shrug.

"Did it ever occur to you that maybe this peace you have is a reward?" she suggested gently. "A new kind of training, maybe? Teaching you to embrace the peace, and be ready, but not to live your life caught up in violence and death?"

"Maybe," Sam admitted, though he'd never really thought of it that way. He paused a moment as he tried to find the words to explain something else that he was only really just starting to realize himself. "I didn't want to forget," he confessed. He didn't want to go back to his place in time and risk forgetting all of this and all of them. He didn't want to forget everything they'd gone through to win the fight either, even though that's what changing the future had probably done.

"There's nothing wrong with that, baby," she told him, gently touching his arm. "You don't need to feel guilty for it, either. Hope knew. She probably would have stayed too, if you had asked her to. But it's better for her that she went back, and got to forget it all. You did the right thing."

"I miss her every day, but ..." Sam paused a moment. It wasn't the first time they'd discussed this, and he was pretty sure his mother knew how he felt already. "I wanted her to be happy," he said. It wasn't that Hope wouldn't be happy here, but they'd never planned to stay. She wanted to go home, and he didn't want to ask her to stay just because of him.

"I think she is," Jo said quietly. "She won't be exactly as you remember her, but she's still Hope. She's still a Daddy's girl through and through, and I'm willing to bet she and you will have a pretty close relationship, too."

"You mean Bertie or me?" Sam asked, needing clarification. They'd taken to referring to his younger self as Bertie, instead of Sam in order to distinguish between the two. Though they were essentially the same person, they'd grow up with entirely different experiences.

"I mean you," she clarified, still speaking gently. "I think Anna is more likely to be Bertie's best friend in the family. I think Hope is going to struggle to find where she fits, and I think you are going to be the one who helps her with that."

"Why do you say that?" Sam asked, looking suddenly concerned. This was something he hadn't considered when he'd decided to stay in this time period, but the future had already changed. For one thing, Hope had not been a twin in his time line, and he'd never had a sister named Anna.

"It's just a feeling," she said. "I can't really explain it. Maybe it's wishful thinking, who knows?" She shrugged, unable to make sense of just why she believed as she did.

"Well, I guess we're going to find out," he said, a faint smile on his face. After all, he assumed he was going to be asked to share what he'd seen of the future - the good, as well as the bad.

"If you want to tell me, yeah," she agreed, her smile returning at the sight of his. She glanced toward the window. "How long do you think it takes for one small dog to widdle?"

Sam chuckled. "Knowing Dad, it could take all day," he said, though he assumed his father was more than likely detained because he was busy catching up with Ayden.

"Well, it's his loss," she said, bending to open the oven and reveal the pie she had been teasing his father with, freshly baked and steaming. "Want a slice while we wait?"

Sam smiled. It was a tempting offer, but he was a good son. "Nah, it's okay. I can wait for Dad," he told her, glancing toward the window and wondering just how long they were going to take. He couldn't help but feel a little nervous at what he was going to find in the future.

To be fair, it was only a couple of minutes before the door opened and they were joined by Dean and Ayden, and a very bouncy Bandit. Ayden was grinning as she entered. "Anyone want to tell me why I got summoned to watch a dog do her business?" she asked cheerfully, doling out kisses and hugs to Sam and Jo even as she spoke.

Disposable Heroes / Re: A Peek at the Future
« on: February 17, 2020, 05:53:38 PM »
Sam eyed his father, not quite believing him. He knew his father visited his brother's grave on a regular basis, but he also knew his father had come from a different reality, just as Sam had come from a different point in time. They both knew that anything was possible, and that death wasn't final.

"Pie?" Dean asked, with a gleam in his eyes, even as his son eyed him carefully.

"Like I'm going to tell you first," Jo countered her husband affectionately. She tilted her head toward Sam, waiting for him to come to the decision on his own. Ayden was just waiting for the word, but it had to be Sam's word.

There was only one way to really, truly know what the future held and that was to take a peek at it, if he was brave enough. "What if the future isn't as rosy as we think?" he asked.

Jo met his eye, speaking with absolute confidence. "Then we fix it, and one of us takes another look to make sure it sticks," she said simply. "I'm not going to let the world our children will grow up in go to hell because of something we did or didn't do."

"Isn't that cheating?" Sam asked, looking from one parent to the other again.

Dean grinned. "You're damned right it is." He wasn't about to defend it. Gods, angels, demons - they cheated all the time, so was he going to apologize if they cheated now and then? Hell, no. He was going to use every advantage they had for the benefit of humanity.

"The way I see it, the Olympians brought us here to save the world," Jo said with a shrug. "So that's what we'll do. Over and over again, if we have to."

"Damn straight," Dean said, reaching to take Jo's hand, his expression one of obvious love and devotion. Whatever had happened in their reality before they'd been brought here, it was obvious the pair was inseparable now. "Can we have pie now?"

She smiled at him, squeezing his hand. "Nope," was her answer, sweet and calm and utterly unrelenting. "Later." She turned her eyes back to Sam, her smile softening once again. "So what do you want to do?"

Dean pouted, more like a child than a full-grown man, but said nothing. He'd just have to wait a little while for the promised dessert, which was all the more reason for his son to make up his mind.

Sam didn't seem to care either way about pie right now. He was too busy contemplating the pros and cons of "cheating". "It would probably be stupid of me to say no," he admitted.

"It's your decision, Sam," Jo reiterated firmly. "We can't make the decision for you. But I think this will help you, a lot more than you're willing to believe it will."

There was no one Sam trusted more than his mother, even if this Jo wasn't really the woman who'd raised him. It wasn't that he didn't trust anyone else, but the bond between mother and son had been a strong one - not unlike the bond Dean had had with his own mother so many years ago. If she thought this was best for him, then he trusted her judgment implicitly. "Okay, but if I see anything I don't think is right, I'm going to try and change it."

"Of course we will," she agreed, making it a family affair once again. "Who wants to yell for Ayden? You two both have a closer bond with her than I do."

"I'll do it," Dean volunteered. "Besides, I have to let the dog out," he said. More like a puppy - a very precocious border collie named Bandit, who had been a Christmas present from Dean to Jo.

Jo laughed softly. Though Bandit had been her Christmas present, the little puppy was definitely the family dog, and she had Dean wrapped around her front paws. "Okay, you go deal with the dog and get your sister," she agreed.

"Where is she?" Sam asked of the puppy, who he'd noticed hadn't come to greet him at the door.

"Probably taking a nap," Dean replied, as he stepped out of the room to wrangle the puppy and grab a coat. There was no mistaking it - for a guy who had always claimed to hate dogs, he adored that puppy almost as much as his own children.

Jo watched Dean out of the room before lowering her voice for Sam's benefit. "She's chewing on his favorite pair of boots," she informed her son with a grin. "I keep telling him to put them away, but he never does."

The explosive exclamation from the next room seemed to prove Jo right, but that was quickly followed by Dean cuddling the puppy to prove he still loved her. Sam snickered. "I don't know how you put up with him. He's really hopeless."

"He was worse when I first met him," she said in amusement. "He grew on me." That was a shameless lie; they both knew she had been head over heels for Dean from almost the moment they had met.

"I don't know how he could be worse," Sam admitted with a chuckle. If anything, at least he was smiling now. "You know, I hate to tell you how many pets you're going to end up with."

"Well, in a certain light, right now I have five and another one due in the summer," she countered cheerfully. "I have a feeling Bandit is only the beginning. It's ... it's odd, loving a dog so much. I didn't think I could."

Sam knew enough about his mother's history to understand why she felt that way, and yet, a fluffy puppy was not the same thing as a hell hound. "Yeah, but she's adorable," he pointed out with a smile.

Jo rolled her eyes, but smiled. "Yeah, she is," she agreed. "And incredibly patient with the children. I get all the early morning cuddles, though."

"Incredibly patient with Dad," Sam added with a smirk.

"I heard that!" Dean called, just before he shoved the door closed behind him as he and Bandit stepped outside.

Jo laughed, rising to her feet to rinse out her cup. As she moved, her cardigan fell open, revealing the gentle rounding that was starting to make itself known at her waist - the bump that put her firmly under the protection of Demeter for the next year or more.

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