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They were okay

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The bunker was peaceful and by the complete lack of gunfire and blasting alarms, you would never guess that the world was ending… again. Jack was sitting at the war-table, tracing over the maps of the world. He could almost sense all the life through his wandering fingers. There were so many humans and they were all at risk now. How was he supposed to save them all? Jack was an all-powerful being -he was supposed to be the strongest one in the universe. Even God feared the boy. Yet, he felt utterly useless most of the time and every time he tried to help, people just got hurt. He and Dean had talked about that a lot, how to live with that kind of guilt. One night Dean had told him about his 40 years in Hell. It had been a long day of hunting and it was of course then followed by a long night of drinking. Jack was allowed to drink a beer or two, but Dean was strangely persistent with stopping him before he could get drunk. It would take Jack a few more beers before he would actually feel anything -probably because of his angelic powers interfering-, but he never corrected Dean. He just said okay and went and got Dean another beer. He just liked to talk to Dean, so it didn’t really matter if he too was drinking or not.

He also told Jack how Castiel had dragged him out of Hell, many years ago. Dean’s face always changed, whenever he talked about Castiel. Not when he was talking to Castiel, because they mostly just rolled their eyes at each other. No no, when he was talking about Castiel on those nights, where it was just him and Jack, it was different. Sometimes Dean seemed to forget that Jack was even there, but his expression was always the same. His whole face went soft and a smile twitched at his lips, but his eyes were always a little sad. Jack wanted to ask about that sadness, but he never dared. It seemed too private even for those honest hours. Dean had once slurred “You know what, kid? Cas is the real hero of this ugly-ass story, but even I forget that sometimes… oh man, have I said some dumbass things to that angel. He tries so hard and he always means well, but somehow I still manage to be a complete ass most of the time... honestly, we don’t-I don’t deserve him.” Jack understood. Castiel was his hero too. Jack thought about Dean’s statement every time he saw him and Castiel together. Sometimes they would find their own little corner of the bunker and just sit there for a while. This was probably the only time they didn’t argue. Sam always said to not disturb them, and Jack never did intentionally. Whenever he walked by the room, however, he would take just a minute to observe. Sometimes they talked quietly with their heads close together, and other times they just leaned back in their chairs and didn’t say a word. One day they were sitting in the library at one of the big wooden tables. Two beers were in front of them, but Jack knew Castiel’s was just there for Dean’s sake. They were both hunched over the table, leaning close but they didn’t seem to be saying anything. Then Jack saw it, and he felt ashamed for walking in on a private moment. He had just wanted to ask when they were going to have dinner. Dean’s right hand was holding Castiel’s left, both hands were resting where their knees pressed together. Jack didn’t understand exactly what it meant, but he understood enough to silently walk out of the room again.

Castiel had left the bunker that night, and Dean had asked Jack to drink a beer with him even though they hadn’t been hunting that day. “You remind me of him, you know?” Dean had said, looking at Jack before taking a big swig of his beer. “You always have, and that was also partly why I was so hard on you in the beginning… it was just… Cas was gone, and I blamed you and you were just too much like him. Quirky and literal and just very not-human-in-a-very-human-way.” Jack had just nodded his head and taken a small sip of his orange juice. He knew that he didn’t have to say anything at that moment. Dean furrowed his eyebrows and pursed his lips. He nodded his own head, seemingly deep in thought. “But that didn’t make it okay, and I know that. I mean, you were only what? A day old? And I gave you all kinds of crap that you didn’t deserve and I don't know... I am just sorry for how I treated you, kid” Now Jack needed to say something, and he did. “I forgive you.” Dean’s smile seemed relieved as if he had been carrying that apology around for a while. They had clinked their drinks together and Dean had gone on telling a story about a pack of monster and a malfunctioning blowtorch.

Dean could drink a lot and sometimes he got hungover. On those mornings he was even more of an angry bear. They had the routing down though: Sam made eggs and bacon -a lot of bacon-, Castiel made the coffee extra strong and Jack would wait to ask Dean questions until after 10 am. Sam -who woke up at 8 am- always complained that Dean was a grump in the mornings and he surely was. The only person he talked to was Castiel. Dean liked to grumble about Castiel and his inability to get hangovers while holding out his coffee cup. Castiel then, while pouring the coffee into the cup, always reminded Dean, that he was an angel and it was therefore also nearly impossible to even get drunk, much less “completely hammered”. They would then bicker about which was worse; not being able to get drunk or getting drunk but consequently also hungover. This continued until Dean had finished his coffee and held out his cup again. Jack didn’t mind just listening for those hours until Dean was safe to approach. He ate his cereal and felt content with being with his family, in his kitchen, in his home. They were safe in those moments and that mattered. Jack would do anything to keep them all safe forever.

Something had changed between him and Dean after Mary’s death, but it was slowly starting to mend again. Jack had apologized -and he had meant it. Now all he could do was wait, give Dean his needed time and then maybe he would be family again one day. He knew that word held a lot of meaning in this bunker and he would do anything to be worthy of that title again. Because they were still his family: Sam, Dean and Castiel. Mary too, but Jack couldn’t always bear to think about her. He knew that that wasn’t fair, and she deserved to be remembered despite the painful lump in his throat. She deserved to be alive in at least that sense.

Jack took a deep shaky breath and rested his head in his hands, elbows leaning on the table. He felt Sam’s presence before he heard him, so the “Jack?” didn’t startle him. He looked up at him. Sam was standing at the top of the stairs with a coffee cup that looked tiny in his hands. Sam furrowed his brows and took a few steps down. Jack realized that he hadn’t answered. “Sam”, he just stated and forced a smiled. It had been a long time since he last truly smiled. Sam’s face relaxed again, and he gave one of his quick, breathy laughs. He proceeded down the rest of the steps and walked towards the table. He gave Jack’s shoulder a pat, before sitting down beside him. “What are you doing down here alone?” he asked. Jack scattered his mind for an excuse, but he didn’t like to lie -and especially not to Sam. He traced over the map again. “I’m just thinking,” he said, and certainly wasn’t a lie. A little vague maybe, but not a lie. Sam nodded, took a sip of his coffee and then sat the cup down. “Listen, Jack, it’s okay if you’re not ready to talk or you maybe don’t want to talk, but you don’t have to hide from us. You haven’t been down for breakfast in a week and I hardly ever see you anymore... Are you afraid of us? Of me?” Jack looked at the steam rising from the cup in waves. “I haven’t been hiding. I just… I didn’t feel like I should intrude right now”. He looked up and Sam’s brows had once again knitted together. “You deserve to have at least a few moments of peace and it just makes it… I make it uncomfortable… every time.” Sam opened his mouth, but Jack interrupted. He already knew what Sam would say. “Yes, I do, and it is because Dean has not forgiven me yet- and I don’t blame him.” He leaned back in his chair. “I wouldn’t forgive me either… and I don’t. I will never forgive myself for the death of Ma-” His eyes began to sting. “The death of your mother, so why should you?” He was almost shouting, but Sam’s face was completely neutral. He pulled his chair closer to Jack’s. “Jack, I need you to listen to me. This isn’t the first time we have lost somebody we love -hell, it isn’t even the first time we’ve lost our mom. And yes, it hurts and that hurt is never going to go away, but hating you isn’t going to bring her back. Punishing yourself isn’t going to bring her back either and you pulling away from us isn’t helping anyone” Now it was Sam’s turn to take a deep breath. “It just makes it feel like we’ve lost two people we love at once.” He looked at Jack and Jacks saw nothing but sincerity. Maybe Jack had been selfish, pulling away because he didn’t want to face the people that he had hurt. “Sam, I am sorry.” He felt like he would always have to tell them that, but Sam’s eyes were warm, and his mouth was now smiling softly. “I know, Jack. We know.” He gave Sam a small smile, and this time it felt real. 

They were interrupted when Castiel and Dean stepped into the room. Jack and Dean’s relationship wasn’t the only one that had changed after Mary’s death. He knew that Dean had blamed Castiel for it too and he knew that he had almost ruined something very special. One day he would apologize for this to Castiel, but at that moment Castiel just looked pleased and proud with Dean’s arm slung across his shoulders. Jack would never want to ruin a moment like that. He understood that something had happened while they were in Purgatory, but he didn’t know what. That would probably become one of the things that Dean would tell him after his fifth beer one night… if Dean ever trusted Jack enough to drunkenly confide in him again. “We’re gonna take Baby out for a ride!” Dean exclaimed, happy look on his face. “Where are you going?” Sam asked before taking a another sip. Dean opened his mouth but was cut off by Castiel. “Beer-run,” he said flatly, but there was something else behind his tone. Sam frowned, yet again, and looked at his brother with a mixture of concern and annoyance. “I just bought beer yesterday, Dean, did you drink 12 bottles in 24 hours?” Sam asked and then Castiel turned and looked at Dean with a confused look. “No!” Dean defended and Castiel’s eyes suddently rolled very far back. Jack, who didn’t understand what was happening, turned to Sam who also looked very confused. Castiel pushed Dean’s arm off his shoulders. “Did you just want to buy pie?” he looked at Dean with narrow eyes. Dean opened and closed his mouth a few times before letting his head drop. Jack leaned towards Sam and whispered, “I think I understand now: Castiel is angry because Dean lied about the beer”. Sam just sighed and nodded his head. “Dean, you’re gonna get chubby.” Castiel sounded tired. Dean lifted his head and looked hurt at Castiel with his mouth open. “Excuse me, I am in perfect shape” He patted his own stomach before poking at Castiel’s. “You’re the one getting floppy, Mr I’m-too-good-to-walk-anywhere”. Sam had seemingly zoned out from the entire conversation and was now looking at his phone. Jack was paying close attention though. He was so curious about their relationship, but he still didn’t want to ask. He was afraid he would ask the wrong question and break something. There was just something different about those two, something very real. It almost seemed like they loved each other so much, they could only express it through arguing about silly little things. Sam had once referred to them as “an old married couple”. Jack didn’t know any old married couples, but Sam was probably right. “Dean, I could crush your skull with my bare hands,” Castiel stated very matter-of-factly. After looking at Dean’s expression, he then followed up with “…but I won’t.” Jack, for once, interrupted their conversation. “We need orange juice”. Dean looked at him for a moment, before nodding okay. “The kid needs his vitamin C, let’s go.” Jack knew that it was just a force of habit, but every time Dean called him “kid” he felt pride -maybe Dean just didn’t want to say his name, but he would rather believe otherwise. “Fine” Cas finally agreed and gave Jack a small smile of goodbye, before they started walking away. They were almost out of the room when Jack heard Castiel's low voice. “What kind of pie do you want?” Jack smiled to himself as Dean slung his arm back around Cas’ shoulders.

They were okay.