"So, go find one," Dean told her, turning his gaze to the little boy curled up peacefully on the floor nearby. His gaze softened, never tiring of that view or of the fact that he was a father. "Jo, do you ever worry about Sam?" he asked, referring to that same little boy, but the one who'd come to them from the future.
She sighed softly, reaching out to spill her fingers through Dean's hair as they talked. "Not so much now as I did before," she admitted quietly. "He's more open now. He talks to us when he needs to. But after Hope went forward ... he was so lost. I don't think he knows just how much he needs Becky. The way I need you."
He smiled at the affection in her caress, reassured with just the touch of her hand. "I'm not sure how to be a good father to him. I mean, we didn't really raise him. I'd never take him to hunt a rugaru the first time around. He has memories of us that haven't happened yet and probably never will. It's like we're his parents, but we're not really. I guess maybe that's how Bobby and Ellen feel, too. They have us back, but I'm not the Dean they knew and they don't remember you."
"So don't be a father to him," she suggested. Herself, she'd had no choice but to be a mother to Sam as soon as he had arrived. He'd set her into that place in his heart and mind, despite how close they were in years, and she would never leave it. "Be a friend, the way Bobby is a friend to you. Look out for him, don't smother him. Let him talk, let him rant, let him do what he needs to do to feel close to you. He needs you, Dean. He needs the man he grew up believing in, and you are that man, even if you don't believe it."
"It sounds like I was a dick as a father, just like I was a dick as a brother," Dean said. "I don't wanna be like my dad, you know? I don't wanna give my son a gun for his sixth birthday and expect him to learn how to shoot it. I don't wanna take him to hunt a rugaru and scold him when he wets his pants. I don't wanna ignore him when he wakes up screaming from a nightmare or crying because he ..." He trailed off, realizing he was listing all the ways in which his father had failed, not him. Not yet. Even in Sam's past, he hadn't been like John Winchester.
Jo let him trail off, one brow raised above a slightly sardonic smile. "Right," she drawled. "You're such a dick as a dad, you took him to his first professional ball game when he was ten years old. You're such a dick, you set aside one day a week when it was just you and him after Hope was born. Only a dick would start a breakfast tradition that is going to last decades, or teach him how to care for his car perfectly. And he would only have come back in time to save the life of a complete dick." She held his gaze for a long moment. "Want me to go on?"
"No, I get your point," Dean replied, taking another swallow of his coffee before it got cold. He'd never thought much about whether or not he'd make a good father; he'd never had the time to consider it, but now that Hades was dead, and they were starting a family, he had to think about it. He let the subject go, though he still had his doubts. "So, are we making this a religious celebration or not?" he asked, knowing that Christmas was traditionally a religious holiday, but that it also had pagan origins and was quickly becoming more of a cultural thing.
"Can't have Christmas without carols," she mused, still drawing her fingers through his hair. "Seeing as the last time we walked into a church, we got overwhelmed by the walking dead, I'm thinking we give services a miss."
"Silent Night and all that?" he mused aloud, unsure how he felt about religion these days, knowing it was mostly a mix of truth and mythology. He didn't really want to get into a theological debate about the historical accuracy of the New Testament, but that was in part what he was asking. "My parents weren't very religious, but my mom believed in angels. She used to pray with me when she tucked me in at night. She always recited that Guardian Angel prayer with me. Lot of good it did, huh?"
"It wasn't meant for you," Jo told him gently, understanding that even better now she was a mother herself. "It was for her, to comfort her. It's a wish that protecting her baby boy didn't fall totally on her shoulders, because she didn't feel like she could do it alone." But was it Mary Winchester she was talking about, or herself? Jo, too, prayed when she put Bertie to sleep, and she knew better than most how pointless it was to pray to a God that wasn't listening.
To Dean's credit, he knew Jo well enough to know she wasn't just talking about Mary Winchester, anymore than he was talking about John. He touched his fingers to her cheek to turn her face to his. "You're not alone, Jo. You're never gonna be alone in anything, not so long as I'm alive - and Brian and Sam and Becky and Bobby and Ellen and Ayden and Ares," he reminded her. It was quite a list of names, far longer than those they'd left behind in their own world. They were never alone, not even in this, never again.
She smiled, tilting her cheek into the gentle caress of his hand as she met his gaze. "I know I'm not alone," she promised him. "It's just ... he's so small and helpless and ... I still sometimes feel like that awkward kid who couldn't even make a sandwich. And now I'm married, and a mom, and ... it seems so big. It seems like too much, and not enough, all at the same time. You know?"
"Yeah, I know," Dean replied, understanding all of that a little too well. It was a big responsibility raising children, especially when you'd spent so many years just trying to survive and take care of yourself. "We'll learn how to be parents together," he promised her, that soft smile still on his face. There was no denying the fact that Dean Winchester had mellowed, and the reason for it was staring him right in the face.
"And make more, so if we screw this one up, we can try again," she teased, leaning down to kiss him with giggling lips. They both knew that their eldest was going to turn out just fine. As she kissed him, though, an insistent sound made itself known, making her draw back in amusement. "Baby ... your pants are singing to me again."
"I don't think Sam is too screwed up, is he?" Dean asked, as if their grown son was any indication of their future parenting skills. Anything else he might have said was cut off by her kiss, distracting them both from the conversation. "Hm?" he mumbled, distractedly, before realizing his cell phone was going off in his jeans pocket. "You want something inside them to sing to you later?" he teased, as he fished inside his jeans pocket for his phone. "Speak of the devil," he murmured, seeing as the caller was coming up as Sam.
"Define later," she laughed, kissing the tip of his nose. Glancing down at the phone, she grinned. "Cock-blocked by your baby boy, you must be so proud." Snickering, she rose to her feet, leaning down to lift Bertie up from his less-than-comfortable napping position.
Dean flipped his phone open - yes, he was still carrying a flip phone - a smirk on his face as he answered. "Kirk to Bridge," he told the caller.
Jo spluttered, laughing loudly at Dean's greeting to his son. "Baby, if you're going for capable and sexy, should have been Picard," she told her husband, gently jostling the baby she had just woken by accident.
"Picard was bald!" Dean argued, blinking as he heard a voice on the other end of the phone trying to get his attention. "Sorry. Your mother is questioning my choice of Starship Captain," he explained, though it seemed self-explanatory enough. There was a short pause from Dean while he was presumably listening to Sam's voice on the other end. "Uh, yeah ... Hang on. She's right here." Dean drew the phone away from his head for a moment and turned to Jo. "It's Sam. He wants me to put him on speakerphone."
"But the accent, Dean." Jo laughed again, swaying to settle Bertie against her shoulder as he put their adult son on speaker. "Hey, little man, what's up?" No matter what happened, Sam was always going to be "little man" to a mother no more than six years his senior.