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Blossom

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Crowley apparently thinks it’s funny to send them running all over Indiana as Dean and Sam scrabble for a decision about his ultimatum. After calling the cops on Sarah’s room and scrubbing it clean as they can of their fingerprints (though there’s little they can do, without better supplies, about the obvious sigils and devil’s traps), they hightail it out of Indy, and Dean’s just passed Sam the wheel and started to doze off when he gets another damn call from the number 666. He startles into action and accepts the call, swiping sleep-tears out of his eyes. “Screw you, Crowley,” he rasps, glaring when Sammy shoots him a pleading look.

“I see Squirrel’s still not ready to accept the terms of my offer,” says Crowley entirely too cheerfully, and then he gives a put-upon sigh. “Callaway Park, Elwood, Indiana. Six hours.”

Dean starts to grumble, “But we’ve just left Indiana—”

“Then I suggest that you be grateful I’ve given you sufficient time to turn back,” Crowley smarms. “Maybe someone a bit—ah—closer to home will turn your persuasions. Unless you’re ready to reconsider now?”

Opening his mouth like an idiot fish, Sam looks like he’s about to make a concession that Dean is not ready to make, and he honest-to-god pouts when Dean abruptly hangs up the phone. “What’d you do that for?”

“He already gave us a location. What you want to sit around listening to him gloat for?”

“We could end this right now, Dean! We could save the lives of everyone Crowley’s going to go after if we don’t—”

“And what about all the lives of people that Crowley’s demons are gonna kill if we don’t slam the gates shut, huh?”

“Funny: you’ve never been the ‘greater-good’ type before,” Sam mutters.

“And what exactly’s that supposed to mean, huh? Turn the car around.”

Scowling, Sam resolutely does not take the exit that whizzes past them.

“Turn the car around, jackass!”

Sammy pulls over, the engine rumbling as it grinds to a halt on the shoulder of the road. Dean could measure his whole life by mile markers and stretches of two-lane asphalt, if he cared to. “What does he mean, ‘closer to home?’ What could be closer to home than…” Sam swallows hard, wringing his hands together in his lap.

Gut clenching, Dean runs a calloused hand down his face and pulls at the stubble. “Okay, okay, look. Let’s go and save whoever’s in Elwood, then use a summoning ritual to get a hold of a demon to-to cure. If Crowley’s somehow—blocked us, or warned the rest of them not to respond to our calls, we think about making a deal. We ain’t going to let him run us around watching more and more people die, all right? We’ll figure out who this person is—”

“What’s even in Elwood?” Sam murmurs. “Did we work a case there once?”

“Fairies,” Dean says grimly. “When you were robo-you. The watchmaker?”

“Right. Mr.—uh—Mr. Brennan. But the Leprechaun killed him before we had the chance to banish them all back to the fairy realm, so who…?”

“Let’s hope we find that out within the next six hours—check them for hex bags, get them to a place we can protect.”

“‘Closer to home,’” Sammy repeats under his breath as his eyes flick around to all the windows, putting the car in gear to make a highly illegal U-turn in the middle of the road.

-

Dean doesn’t sleep much in the four hours it takes to backtrack to Elwood, despite Sammy’s urging that he’s going to need his rest. Instead, they switch places again, Sam insisting that he’s fine (despite his bloodshot eyes and the gaunt purple cast of his face) right up to the moment he passes out cold against the window. Navigating Callaway Park is trickier: Dean was expecting to find a little playground or something, but it’s a wide green space spanning at least an acre, maybe two.

They keep their eyes peeled for anyone they might recognize, including the unfortunate Mr. Brennan—for all they know, this could be another zombie thing, like what happened to Bobby’s and Jody’s families in Sioux Falls during the apocalypse—but it turns out they needn’t have bothered when Sam’s brows crease into a frown and he says, “Hey…”

Dean follows his line of sight to a young woman with shaggy auburn hair pushing a light green stroller. She’s hunched over the open top of the buggy, laughing. “You know Baby Mama over there?”

“I think we may have… because I…” When Dean glances back at Sammy, he finds him gaping at the woman with a tired expression, soft dark patches still ringing his eyes despite napping in the car half the night and morning. “Sparrow?” he calls out to her, louder.

The woman—Sparrow—doesn’t seem to place Sam at first, but with a jolt, Dean recognizes her: she’s the alien-loving hippie chick Sammy screwed instead of looking for Dean, who was occupied fighting off fairies and their probes and their inter-dimensional abductions at the time. Her face breaks open into an unfocused smile, vague but friendly. “Hi! Do I know you from somewhere?” she asks, entirely too trustingly, in Dean’s opinion.

“Y-yeah! It’s Sam, and this is my brother Dean? From the UFO-sighting camp?” Her gaze flicks to Dean and back as they stride over, Sam moving toward her with a little hesitation, and then something clicks behind her eyes.

“Sam! Right! I haven’t been, um, keeping up—was there another abduction? Are you still looking for answers about Dean’s close encounter? You look awful, Sam; is it the trauma?” Sparrow is close enough now to reach forward and cup Sammy’s sunken jaw in both of her hands, and he flinches, ducking away.

“No, no—no trauma,” says Sam with an awkward smile.

“You should try a master cleanse. Detoxing is amazing for the complexion, and a little perk-up could really—”

“Well, Sparrow,” says Dean in his most gravelly voice, “that’s—great, but we are honestly a little more worried about you right now.”

“What?” She gives a false—nervous?—giggle and grabs onto the back of the stroller with bony fingers. “But I’m not in any trouble. I settled down and got off the street after I had Blossom—”

Blossom?” Dean echoes, arching his eyebrows.

“She’ll be three soon enough,” says Sparrow fondly, circling around to reach into the stroller. Sammy’s eyes oscillate rapidly a few times between wide and squinty for no apparent reason. “I wanted to contact you, Sam, after my ex-boyfriend failed the paternity test, but you never gave me any way to reach you, not even a last name to look up. You just look so different now with the-the hair, and the face—but I never would have kept her from you on purpose, I swear.”

When her full meaning finally sinks in, Dean gives Sam a horrified look and then says, “Listen—Sparrow. I don’t know what kind of—baby daddy drama we just stumbled in on, but we can work it out later, all right? Right now, we need to get you somewhere safe.”

“But I don’t—Sam, what’s going on? What does he mean, somewhere safe? I can’t just take Blossom and…”

She’s clutching a toddler to her chest now, a little girl who seems to be stirring from sleep, her crusty eyes—blotchy hazel-blue—blinking open. Christ on a cracker. “Mumma, who’s that?” Blossom gurgles, pointing clumsily at Dean and Sammy.

“These are just two nice men who stopped to say hello to Mumma, but they’re going to leave and go back home now, right?” Bouncing Blossom a little on her hip, Sparrow spreads her lips in a thin smile.

Sam interrupts before Dean can respond, which is just as well, since he’s at a loss how to swing this without driving them away or having to make a scene. “Sparrow, please. Just hear us out. Let’s just—go for coffee? And even if you think we’re crazy, I can still just—just spend a couple hours with my—your…?”

The fight goes out of Sparrow’s shoulders a little, and she presses a kiss to the top of Blossom’s forehead. “Yeah. Um… yeah, I guess that’s fair. Come on, there’s a little café around the corner that we can head to.”

-

So they set off, Blossom the only one who seems relatively unaware of the tension as she fusses a little and then starts pestering Sam and Dean with questions: How old are they? Do they know her Mumma? Do they have any kids who belong to them, like she belongs to her Mumma? Dean keeps trying to catch Sammy’s eye, but Sam keeps avoiding it, and Dean wishes they could afford to leave Sparrow and Blossom alone for a damn minute so he could check in with his brother, Crowley, someone who can tell Dean if Sam is really Blossom’s…

“I used to think I wanted to have kids,” Sam is telling Blossom seriously, “but now… maybe first I can start by getting to know you a little better.” Blossom beams at him, a dimple peeking out at them from just one cheek, and when Sam smiles faintly back, Dean’s heart just about breaks.

He’s expecting Sparrow to take them to some vegan hippie joint that only serves rabbit food, so he’s a little taken aback when she buys two chili dogs with a heaping side of mac and cheese at what Dean had assumed was a soup-and-sandwich place. It’s one of those cafés where you give your order to the cashier up front, and he glowers up at the chalkboard menu with its flowery cursive script and the little hearts dotting all the i'’s while Sam overpays for a free-range chicken salad sandwich. Sam has to prompt him a couple times to get his attention, and Dean blinks and then buys all four slices of pepperoni pizza revolving on a turntable encased on top of the counter.

It’s too bad that Skippy’s Sandwiches and More doesn’t sell alcohol because Dean really needs a drink.

“So why settle down in Elwood?” Sam asks Sparrow as they’re tucking into their lunches. “You’re not originally from around here.”

“No, I was just passing through when I met you and then found out I was pregnant with the little rascal,” she says, fondly scratching her quick-bitten fingernails through Blossom’s hair to ruffle it.

Giggling, the girl squeals, “You’re a silly rascal, Mumma!” Sam flashes her a twinkly, doe-eyed smile and is halfway to busting out the full force of his dimples before he catches Dean’s eye and hastily clears his throat.

Sparrow continues, “Elwood was as good a place as any to settle in, you know? And the people here—well, my old camp moved on, like always, but I met some really generous people here who made it easy to find a job, get a place… really establish some stability for Blossom.”

Dean looks down at the toddler in question: Blossom is propped up next to Sparrow in the booth on one of those booster seats he remembers buckling Sammy into when the kid was Blossom’s age. The girl looks thoroughly disinterested in what her mom is saying, instead shoveling macaroni gracelessly into her open mouth while singing that stupid-ass song from that new princess movie under her breath. She’s completely tone-deaf, and even Dean probably knows the lyrics better than Blossom does, for all her effort—but Sam and Sparrow both look equally enthralled by the display.

Carefully, Sam asks, “Blossom, are you… I mean, do you like living here in Elwood?”

“Yeah!” she squeals.

“Yeah?”

“Uh-huh. Mumma and me play at the parks. And Miss Ayla shows us how to paint and bake stuff at school!”

Dean’s seriously going to develop a migraine from all the shrieking this girl is doing. “Aren’t you a little young to be going to school already, princess?” he deadpans.

Setting her jaw, Sparrow says, “Miss Angela is her daycare teacher, but she’ll be starting nursery school next school year.”

“With the big kids,” Blossom agrees, nodding, as she scoops up another handful of mac to smear over her face and mouth.

Sam continues to ask after such enthralling details as Sparrow’s job (customer service rep), Blossom’s favorite Disney character (Olaf the snowman), and the Jenningses’ place of residence (a three-bedroom house uptown) until Dean can take no more. Thank god Ben was in double digits by the time Dean moved in with the Braedens. Are all two-to-three-year-olds as giggly and squealy and generally annoying as Blossom is?

“I need to take a leak. Come on, Sammy,” Dean implores.

Laughing incredulously, Sam says, “Uh, you go ahead, dude. I’m good.”

Sam.”

“Wow. I thought it was just teenage girls who go to the bathroom in packs,” Sparrow says with a grin when, sighing, Sam pushes out his chair and gets up to follow Dean to the back of the café.

“We’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere,” Dean says with more than a little reluctance.

The men’s restroom around back is single-occupancy, but Sammy doesn’t have much time to protest before Dean hauls him inside and locks the door behind them. “Sam, what the hell are we doing here? These people have under an hour before Crowley’s cronies are supposed to come after them, and you’re sitting around making small talk like you’re Sparrow’s little girlfriend.”

Sam riles up with immediate anger. “You saw how she reacted in the park when we tried to be direct with her! If we need to build her trust before we can spring the whole ‘demons-are-real’ shtick on her—”

“Is that really all this is about? You’re thinking just about the case? Because it sure as hell seems to me like you’re too distracted by your freakin’ Maury family reunion to pay attention to keeping these people alive.”

“I… can’t I do both?” Sam pleads, his voice breaking. He bites his lip with a blush as he turns to face the wall. “I’m not soulless anymore; shouldn’t I be able to react for—just a few minutes, while we’re sorting this out? Blossom is my… Dean, I have a daughter.”

“If she’s your daughter—”

“She looks just like me! She looks like Dad! Crowley’s been keeping tabs on her—there’s no if here! Sparrow and I didn’t use a condom when we—”

“Okay, enough. You still need to quit mooning over her and—”

Dean’s startled when Sam interrupts, “What is your problem today? You’ve been acting weird and pissed-off all day, man.”

“I’m stuck watching you fawn over some annoying kid while we should be busy setting up protections, that’s what!”

But there’s a sad smile dawning on Sammy’s face that Dean doesn’t like one bit while Sam appears to grapple for words. Finally, he says in an odd and strangled voice, “Are you jealous of Blossom?”

Flashing red, Dean immediately insists, “What? That’s ridiculous. It’s you and me against the world; I wouldn’t wanna trade that in because of some obnoxious toddler who doesn’t even mean anything to you.” When Sam doesn’t reply for a long moment, Dean adds, “Right?”

Sam shrugs. “Not nothing. Not after we all make it out of this. Look, just—just follow my lead with Sparrow, okay? And for god’s sake, Dean, try to stop antagonizing Blossom. She’s not even three years old yet.”

“You liked it when I antagonized you at that age,” Dean grumbles. “It made you feel included.” At that, Sam’s horrible half-smile flicks real for a few seconds before it fades away.

-

Dean stares Blossom down across the table while Sam works on convincing Sparrow to spend more time with them somewhere… hopefully not at Sparrow’s house, where there might be more hex bags, but honestly, Dean isn’t paying that close of attention to their conversation. Instead, he’s scrutinizing Blossom’s bone structure and wondering how Sammy could possibly mistake her for being his kid. She’s only got the one dimple—popping out of her left cheek as she smiles at Dean now, the smug brat—with cheekbones a little too low and lips a little too thin to match Sam’s. Sure, maybe she’s got Sam’s (and Dad’s) blocky forehead, but in the yellow lighting of the café, the color of her eyes has shifted to a patchy yellow-green, nothing at all like Sam’s eyes’ current shade of (Dean checks quickly)… well… damn.

If one of the brothers were to father an illegitimate kid (well, besides the short-lived one that was a supernatural Amazonian tasked with murdering her dad), Dean would’ve always assumed it would have been him. Even before the vasectomy he got after everything that went down with Ben and then Emma, Dean’s always slept around a hell of a lot more than Sam has—though he supposes that Sam’s stint without a soul may be the only existing exception to that rule, and if Sam was actively failing to use protection whenever he could get away with it for a six-month period—well, consequences like Blossom suddenly make a hell of a lot more sense. Still, it’s hard for Dean to wrap his head around the idea that Sam—his goody-two-shoes prima-donna little brother—could have been the Winchester to mess up badly enough to knock up a girl out of wedlock. That kind of shit has always been Dean’s line, not Sam’s.

He scowls at Blossom, who hiccoughs and claps her hands delightedly. When he scowls again, more pointedly this time so as to get his message across, the girl scowls back in a wildly inaccurate imitation of him, and then she burps and grins again, swiping her cheesy hands across her even-cheesier cheeks.

Slightly sickened, Dean steals a few napkins from the plastic dispenser on the table and starts dabbing them into Sam’s girly lemon water. “You’re quite the little barbaric heathen, aren’t you?” he taunts, quietly enough that he doesn’t really mean for Blossom to hear (let alone understand) him, but she laughs anyway and then asks him what a barber-heather is.

Muttering, “I can honestly say I have no words to respond to that,” Dean clicks his tongue, then takes one of Blossom’s hands in his and starts scooping up some of the cheese coating it as best as he can into the wad of napkins with a squelch. Her chubby, fragile fingers clench and unclench uselessly in his grip, and Dean’s finished with both her firm little hands and is scrubbing wetly at her cheeks by the time he notices that Sam and Sparrow have fallen silent.

Finishing up hastily, Dean drops the napkins like they’ve burned him and coughs. Sparrow’s smiling annoyingly when she says in a soft voice, “I think she likes you. She usually won’t sit still for anyone, do you, Blossom? Hmm? Isn’t that right, my sweet flower?”

Sam’s brilliant plan of keeping the Jenningses safe from hex bags turns out to involve going out for ice cream at a parlor Sparrow’s never tried before, where he furtively knocks over Sparrow’s shoulder bag after they’ve all ordered. While Sammy busies himself “helping clean up” its spilled contents, Dean conducts a quick but thorough search of Blossom’s stroller that fails to turn up anything supernatural. A minute shake of Sam’s head tells Dean that there’s nothing in Sparrow’s bag, either, and he’s not sure whether to feel relieved or apprehensive: if they’re clear of hex bags, and Crowley’s explicitly stated he won’t send anything demonic near the Winchesters, then what the hell should Dean and Sam be preparing for?

“So, uh, what have you been up to these last couple years? What are you both even doing back in Elwood?” Sparrow asks them as she spoon-feeds mouthfuls of frozen yogurt to Blossom in between bites of her own.

From her body language, it’s clear that Sparrow’s questions are directed at Sam, and he clears his throat and gives Dean another nervous glance. He’d seemed to perk up a little during lunch, but from the expression and pallor of Sam’s face now, Dean would be willing to bet that Sammy’s nausea has returned (and then some). “Well… obviously, Dean and I are still traveling a lot, but we’ve also—sort of—settled down, in Kansas, actually, where we’re from.”

“Kansas! Really,” says Sparrow delicately. “I wouldn’t have guessed—you don’t have the accent, anyway.”

“Well, we kind of grew up all over, but it’s where we were both born, at least. We recently, um, inherited some property down there—from our grandfather, actually. We’ve been… remodeling it in between trips.”

Dean snorts, and Sam’s and Sparrow’s eyes all flick to him. “Right. Remodeling. I tell you what: Sammy here isn’t much of a decorator. You should see his room.”

“Dean’s done most of the work,” Sam hedges with an awkward smile. “And most of the cooking. He’s just… been really incredible taking care of—things since I’ve been—sick.”

He’s not sure exactly what Sammy’s playing at here by going into this much detail about their lives in front of (to be totally honest, family or not) two perfect strangers. If this is Sam’s way of trying to smooth things over after their arguments about Blossom and Crowley and the trials, after Sarah… Dean just wishes the kid would pick a less obtrusive way to make Dean feel wildly uncomfortable, one that didn’t involve threatening to expose them to jackass strangers.

“Not too sick, I hope?” Sparrow is saying now.

Sam stammers for a short couple seconds before hedging, “It’s a… immunodeficiency thing. It usually doesn’t act up like this. But like I said, you know, Dean makes a huge difference.”

“Yeah, yeah. There’s not much difference to be made when this one won’t stay in bed and rest like I tell him to.”

“I’m not the best patient,” Sam says, sounding warm and unconcerned.

“You’re so different from when I last met you,” Sparrow marvels. “Are you sure you’re the same Sam that I—played with three years ago?” she adds, radically confusing Dean until he realizes that the euphemism is for Blossom’s benefit.

Sam, though, doesn’t miss a beat. “I was going through a weird time back then,” he says, and Dean snorts again. “But I… got some help, since then.”

“I’m really glad to hear that, Sam. You seem…”

She stops talking, fidgeting with her hands, until Sam says quietly, “Hey. Anything you can say to me you can say in front of Dean. He’s good people—even if his manners have been atrocious today.”

Stomping on Sam’s foot under the table, Dean nearly misses Sparrow’s soft reply: “You were just cold, you know? When my ex and I had just broken up, I made some pretty terrible choices, and at first—at first I was kind of glad it was gonna just be Blossom and me, but now I think maybe… if you wanted…?”

Dean’s whole body flushes white-hot, his stomach roiling. Sam glances fleetingly at him before saying, “You’ve mentioned stability a few times now, Sparrow, and you should know that the work my brother and I do isn’t very stable. That’s actually why we’re here, in Elwood. We sometimes take jobs that…”

“Private investigator gigs,” Dean supplies, and Sparrow’s furrowed eyebrows straighten out just a little. “Cheating spouses, jilted lovers.”

“Right,” says Sam, sounding more confident. “That’s why I was asking all those questions last time we were here—for a case. Well, one of those, uh, cheating lovers wasn’t too happy about the outcome of that investigation, and now, we have reason to believe that he might be trying to get revenge against us—well—on the two of you.”

Still frowning, Sparrow presses, “What did questions about alien encounters have to do at all with sussing out a cheating partner?”

“We’re not at liberty to discuss confidential case details,” says Dean a lot more assertively than he feels. Sammy’s story is weak as hell, and Sparrow seems just as unconvinced as Dean would expect.

“Okay, but who from the camp would even know about Blossom? I told you, I went straight and stopped talking to them after I found out I was pregnant, after my close encounter—”

“Wait a minute, what close encounter?” Sam asks sharply.

“I don’t know. It’s part of why I got out of all that. It wasn’t like the ones I’d heard about before: the alien came to me in a vision, asked if I wanted to volunteer my body for their cause, but even when I said yes, nothing else ever happened. Then I found out I was pregnant a couple weeks later, and—”

Christo,” Dean says experimentally, and when Sparrow just blinks at him, his dawning horror expands sharply. There’s an angel blade stashed inside his jacket, but even if he’s right in thinking that the thing asking for consent to possess Sparrow was something much older and much more dangerous than any alien Sparrow could imagine, he can’t kill an innocent woman on a hunch that she might be an unwitting vessel. “Sparrow, this is important,” he says as Sammy hoists Blossom up and into his lap. “The friends who helped you get settled in town: who are they?”

“I don’t know!” she repeats. “Friends! People who took a chance on a homeless girl with no experience or skills or money to help me get a job, my own house—daycare for my daughter—”

“Can you think of their names?”

“I don’t—I don’t know, Dean—”

“When they were securing you these opportunities, did you ever lose time? Did you ever find yourself somewhere without any idea what happened for minutes or hours beforehand?”

“I…”

That’s when Sparrow’s eyes flash bluish-white and Dean becomes acutely aware that he’s not talking to Sparrow anymore. “Sam, get the baby out of here,” Dean says quickly. “Get everybody out of this shop and away from—”

The angel wearing Sparrow Jennings cocks its head (reminding Dean acutely and painfully of Castiel) and flicks its wrist, generating a series of loud thuds from the other end of the room. When Dean glances up from their table, he finds the bodies of the room’s other occupants (a pair of teenage girls who earlier had been holding hands, and the overly peppy cashier who took Dean’s order) pinned up against the nearest walls; he’d be willing to bet that all the doors are locked now as well.

Fantastic.

He goes for the blade but stops when Sammy shouts, “Don’t!” just as Blossom starts to cry. Of course Sam would produce the whiniest child Dean’s ever met: no sense of global consequence.

“Mumma, what’s wrong?” Blossom wails, only getting louder when Sam tries to shush her and bounce her in his lap.

“Sparrow Jennings has vacated her mind for the present moment,” the angel says in an oddly lilting voice. It turns to Sam and lunges for Blossom, but Sammy slips out of the booth and curls himself over Blossom’s screaming, writhing body, covering it fully with his own.

“Come on, you’re working for Crowley? How does that scumbag even know about Blossom?”

They won’t learn until later—while Sammy signs away his ability to complete the Trials, their poison flooding back out of his veins, and Dean hangs back in the car with Blossom, who now hates him as much as he does her—that the nameless and interchangeable angel residing inside of Sparrow within a month of Blossom’s conception was only one of several double agents Crowley had from the ranks of Heaven’s Intelligence unit, who had told Crowley of Blossom’s existence after Naomi decided to keep tabs on the only other member of the bloodlines of Michael’s and Lucifer’s true vessels. For now, however, the angel doesn’t bother to answer Dean, though it does take a moment out of its tussle with Sam to forcibly snap Sparrow’s neck with a crack, and Dean takes the opportunity to plunge his blade deep into the thing’s exposed back. “Stay down and don’t look, Blossom,” he hears Sam say in a muffled voice as Sparrow’s vessel crackles and flashes that awful, sparking bluish-white before slumping dully onto the linoleum floor.

-

Blossom screams bloody murder all the way from the ice cream place to the car, where they raise their voices louder than they really need to in order to hear each other above the inconsolable two-year-old in their presence. “We’re not giving her away to CPS. I’m not doing it,” Sam spits out even as he tucks Blossom into his chest and starts patting her back.

“Does Blossom even have any surviving family on Sparrow’s side? Grandparents?”

“Does it matter? Even if she’s got other family we could pass her along to, we shouldn’t. She needs to be with hunters, or at least people who know that the supernatural exists, enough to defend themselves and Blossom from it. Crowley and the angels all still know about her: we can’t assume no one’s ever going to come after her again.”

“And who do you suggest we take her to, Sammy, huh? Garth? Castiel? Maybe Kevin and Charlie can co-parent her from the Batcave; does that sound like the makings of a stable childhood to you?”

For a long moment, Sam just stares at him, now rubbing circles into Blossom’s upper back from where she’s still screaming on his lap in the passenger seat. Unnerved, Dean says, “The answer you’re looking for here is ‘no,’ Sam. I was kidding about Kevin and Charlie.”

“Well… I was thinking we would raise her in the bunker, Dean. You and me.”

Dean laughs high in his throat for a long while, then sobers when he realizes Sam is still watching him with a serious, hopeful lift to his chin and in his eyes. “This is a joke, right? Sam, we are legally dead. The FBI thinks we’re—very bad men,” he adds with a nervous look toward Blossom, who’s still going strong but at least muffled a bit by Sam’s shirts. “All Sparrow wanted for her daughter was a stable upbringing, and we are the last people equipped to give that to her. I don’t know what you deluded yourself into thinking while you were holed up with Amelia back when—”

“Is that seriously what this is all about, Dean? Are you really still so bitter about not being the only person who matters in my life—”

“Oh, that’s rich. Let me see: Benny—”

“—that you’re gonna try and split me up from my only kid? You got to have Ben—”

“Yeah, and I gave him up because it was the right thing to do! I watched you murder Emma—”

“She was actively trying to kill you!”

“—My daughter—because that was the right thing to do, too. I got a vasectomy even though I would have loved to have kids—”

“You got a vasectomy?” Sam asks, momentarily startled, but then he shakes his head back and forth a few times, seemingly to refocus. “You were wrong to take away Lisa and Ben’s memories without their consent, just like you would be wrong right now to take away Blossom’s right to know the only parent she still has left. Don’t screw up my daughter’s life just because you’re too emotionally stunted to move past your own baggage, asshole.”

Dean opens his mouth to yell something back, but when Blossom starts whining, “Where did my Mumma go?” Sam just gives Dean one last dirty look and then shushes soothingly in her ear.

“Your Mumma’s not coming back, sweetie. I’m so sorry. She loved you so, so much, Blossom; she would be here if she could,” Sam says, starting up a low stream of weak consolation as Dean resolutely turns to glare out the driver’s side window. He’s fine, swiping irritably at his eyes. He’s not the one who’s too sentimental to see reason.

Finally, when Blossom’s dropped the volume to a soft, continuous whimper, he tells Sam without looking at him, “You’re going to have to quit hunting and do a bang-up job faking your IDs if you want to give her the life she deserves. You can’t do to her what Dad did to you.”

Looking startled, Sam says hoarsely, “I won’t. But—you’d do that? What about the Trials? What—”

“I said you have to. Not us.” Dean chances another glance at Sam’s face but looks away when he finds that Sammy’s crying, too, now, apparently having grown a vagina in the last two hours by proximity to Blossom and Sparrow. “Sammy, I just can’t do it with you if it ain’t gonna be you and me. I—”

“Stop talking,” says Sam, curt and blank and everything that Dean never wanted to hear, and that’s when he knows he’s just thrown away—everything—his only thing.