The Long and Winding Road (amypond45) wrote,
The Long and Winding Road
amypond45

MASTERPOST: Letting the Days Go By - (Gen, PG-13)

Title: Letting the Days Go By
Author: amypond45
Genre: Gen
Pairing: None
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Mary tries to be a good wife and mother, really she does. Trouble is, she’s been raised to be a hunter, and pretending to be something she’s not isn’t easy. Maybe she can figure out a way to be both. Inspired by the prompt: Mary, trying to be an ordinary wife and mother: being normal is harder than it looks. Written for the 2017 spn_summergen.

Read it on AO3

October 31, 1983

The oven timer beeps incessantly.

She's tried a manual timer but it's not loud enough. She can never hear it over the sound of the dryer and the baby's constant fussing, so she's already burned two batches of corn muffins and an apple pie trying to use that thing. She hates it.

The baby bangs his spoon on the tin tray of his high-chair just as Mary opens the oven door, making her jump and burn her hand.

"Shit!"

She leaves the oven door open, flipping the timer off as she crosses to the sink to run cold water over her hand.

"Bah bah bah," baby Sam babbles out of time to his banging. His tray is empty, so Mary pours another handful of Cheerios onto it. Of course the box slips out of her wet hand and Cheerios fly everywhere. The box hits the floor and skids to a stop against the counter, spilled Cheerios tumbling forth in a wave.

"Shit!"

Hot tears of frustration burn her eyes as she surveys the mess, grateful that the baby is momentarily occupied with stuffing Cheerios into his mouth. He’s almost hit his six-month birthday, so he's not very good at pinching his thumb and forefinger together well enough to pick up the cereal yet. He uses his whole fist to grab at the small circles, dropping as many of them on the floor as he gets into his mouth, but at least he's content for the moment, concentrating on mastering the new skill with gleeful abandon.

He doesn't give up easily, her Sammy. He's got perseverance.

Mary fetches the broom and dustpan, humming "Mary had a little lamb" as she cleans up the mess. She sings constantly these days. It steadies her nerves, calms Sam down when he's fussy, but mostly just helps her cope. The last few months have been tough. Sam was a colicky baby and John was having problems at work. Mary spent sleepless nights pacing the nursery with Sam in her arms, stiff and inconsolable, or rubbing his little back or belly in an endless battle with whatever mysterious ailment or neurological defect causes colic in the first place.

There were moments when she was so tired and felt so helpless in the face of Sammy's misery she wished he'd never been born. She pushes those thoughts down deep, never considering them too clearly, but they’re there. It makes her feel like a terrible failure as a mother, even though she understands that it’s a normal response to being exhausted and overwhelmed.

Dean was a perfect baby, happy and easily soothed. Despite the general helplessness Mary felt when Dean was born, he'd been what she now knew was an "easy" baby. Dean had slept through the night from the time he was three months old. He'd met all his milestones like clockwork and grew in perfect percentages, making the doctor smile at how normal his growth pattern was, how average. It made Mary proud, as if she could take personal credit for Dean's nature, even though she knew it was really due to good luck and genes.

"He takes after you," John told her on more than one occasion as Dean grew from a contented baby into an agreeable toddler. And it was certainly true that Dean looked like his mother with his huge green eyes and his wide smile. His hair had been blond at birth; by the time he was three it had darkened to a golden brown, but he still looked more like Mary than he did his dark-haired father.

"My little ball of sunshine," Mary cooed when Dean was small, and now that he’s four it’s obvious that Dean’s a natural peacemaker. He’s the child every other kid gets along with in playgroups and at preschool, and his teachers love him.

"Shit!"

She's lost track of the time, and a glance at the clock on the stove tells her it's past the time she was supposed to pick Dean up from preschool.

"Shit, shit, shit," Mary curses under her breath as she wipes Sammy's face with a wet dishcloth and unfastens his bib. She really should change him, but there isn't time now. She wipes his hands as best as she can but he won't let go of the spoon, starts to scream when she tries to pry it out of his little hand. She gives up, lets him hold onto it as she unbuckles him from the high-chair.

Sam drops the spoon and grabs her hair as she scoops him up and whirls to snatch her keys and purse off the counter. He yanks on her hair, chubby hands full of gooey, half-eaten Cheerios, and she grits her teeth, growling her frustration as she heads out the back door to the car. She loves being a mother.

Mary’s halfway to the preschool when she realizes she left the oven on.

**//**//**

Mary hasn't always been a mother.

She hasn't always been a wife, either. When she first met John Winchester, her stomach flipped and her hands got clammy and she stopped eating or sleeping very well. She knew she was in love because every time she saw him her heart pounded and her vision blurred. She felt more alive than she'd ever felt in all her eighteen years.

John made her feel safe.

He was also her ticket out of a home-life she had come to hate. Most parents of high school seniors looked forward to launching their children into the world, into the next stage of their lives, either by sending them to college, or setting them up with a good job and an apartment of their own.

Mary's parents expected her to stay right where she was, to continue living with them and doing what they did, living "the life." They probably wouldn't stay in Lawrence, that much Mary's dad had made clear. Now that her schooling was done, they'd go back on the road, live that secret underground hunting life that Mary hated more than anything. They'd follow the job, just like they'd always done.

"It's your destiny, Mary," Samuel Campbell had said on more than one occasion over the years since she was about eight years old and first learned what her family really did. "One day, you'll be the best damn hunter this world has ever known."

Not if I can help it, Mary had sworn under her breath.



May 2, 1973

The blood on her hands is bright red. Not deep and dark like the monsters she kills, but bright and colorful like a balloon. Like finger paint.

“Mary? What happened? Is he dead? Oh my God! Is that blood?”

“Help me get him into the car, John. I need to find a payphone.”

“A payphone? Shouldn’t we leave him here? Isn’t this a crime scene or something? Don’t we need to call the police? Mary, I think I should probably go find that payphone by myself. You stay here with the – with your dad. I’ll go get the police and be back as soon as I can.”

“No! No, John, listen to me. I need to call my uncle. Dad always said I should call him right away if anything ever happened – “

“What? No, Mary. Your dad has been fatally stabbed. We need to tell the police!”

She wipes her hands on her jeans, takes a deep breath to still her shuddering sobs.

“It’s okay, John,” she says. “I know what I’m doing. Please just help me get him into the car.”

It takes them less than five minutes to drive to the nearest payphone, Samuel Campbell’s body curled up in the Impala’s big trunk.

“Hello?” The voice on the other end of the line is one she hasn’t heard in years.

“Uncle Ed?”

There’s a pause. “Mary? Mary, is that you? What’s happened?”

Suddenly she’s sobbing, unable to contain her grief and terror. “Yes, it’s me. Something terrible’s happened. I – it’s Dad and Mom. Both of them. They – there was a demon, and it – they’re both – “

“Okay, okay, Mary, settle down. Deep breaths. Are you at home?”

“I’m at the payphone in front of the Jay Bird Diner. Dad’s body’s in the car. I haven’t been home yet, but it said – the demon said it killed Mom – “

Ed Campbell’s voice becomes hard, serious. “I’m on my way. You just sit tight ‘til I get there, y’hear? Are you alone?”

“No. No, John’s with me. He’s so confused. He doesn’t understand why I won’t let him drive to the police station or the hospital. I don’t know what to tell him!” Mary’s more relieved than she can admit to let Ed take over, to let him tell her what to do. Being a good daughter is all she’s ever known.

“Okay, now listen. What did your dad always tell you? Huh? We leave civilians out of it. You’re doing the right thing, Mary. Just hang in there ‘til I get there, all right? I’m on my way.”

“Okay.”



October 31, 1983

When Mary gets home, she puts Sam down for his nap. He’s already asleep; car rides always make him drowsy. She’s just grateful he stays asleep after the car stops and she lifts him out of his carseat.

“Come on, Dean,” she says as she helps Dean unbuckle his booster seat. “Let’s put Sam to bed, then we can have lunch, okay?”

“Okay, Mommy,” Dean agrees cheerfully.

He’s always cheerful, her Dean. Always agreeable. She doesn’t know how she got so lucky.

“How did it go today?” Mary asks as she makes Dean’s sandwich and heats his soup.

Dean sits at the table, waiting patiently, his little legs swinging as he lines his army men up and pretends to make them shoot at each other.

“Good,” he says.

“Did you make any friends?”

“Uh-huh.”

Mary has tried and failed to befriend the other mothers at the preschool. They all seem to know each other already. Their children go to the same activities and have playdates at each other’s houses. Mary dutifully signed Dean up for t-ball since some of the other children are doing that, but even at the t-ball practices she stands alone, watching Dean take his turn at bat with no small measure of anxiety. He seems to get overlooked because the coach is the father of one of the boys whose mother is a room-mother at the preschool.

And the reality is, Mary doesn’t want to be there anyway. She doesn’t care about the playdates and the room-mothering. She’s bored to tears by the other mothers’ gossiping and endless chatter about their children’s activities and accomplishments.

How did she ever think she was going to do this, again? How did she ever think she wanted to?

She burns the soup. She burns the grilled-cheese sandwiches she’s making for herself and Dean. She dumps them all in the sink and leans on the edge of the counter, sucking in deep breaths in an effort to stave off her despair. The crushing sense of failure.

Dean pads up behind her and puts his little arms around her, as well as he can.

“It’s okay, Momma,” he says softly. “It’s okay.”

He lays his little head on her backside and pats her awkwardly. She cries then, hot, wet tears sliding down her cheeks.. She turns around and hugs her boy, her little man, reaching over his head for the dishtowel so that she can wipe her tears away.

“It’s okay,” Dean says again. “Daddy loves you. I love you. Sammy loves you. It’s okay, Momma.”

“I know,” Mary says, her voice choked with sobs. She wipes at her face and laughs. “Momma just gets sad sometimes.” She rubs Dean’s back, feeling like a bigger failure for letting him see her misery. It’s not the first time, though; Dean’s already an old hand at comforting his mother when she’s down. More than he should be. “Come on. We’ll have peanut butter and jelly instead.”



June, 1973

She’s in the woods of northern Wisconsin, hunting down a pack of werewolves that just slaughtered a family on a camping trip.

It’s been a month since her parents’ deaths. Uncle Ed and Aunt Debbie took care of everything, gave her mom and dad the hunters’ funeral they deserved. They cleaned out her house for her, let her move in with them temporarily while she figured out her next move.

Hunting down the son-of-a-bitch who did this to her family has been her top priority ever since. She thinks Dean knows something about it, but she hasn’t been able to find him since that night. Uncle Ed’s never heard of a Dean Van Halen. It’s like he just disappeared into thin air. Several hunters have passed through Lawrence over the past month, after hearing through the grapevine that there was a possible demon in the area, but none of them have heard of Dean either. Even the man named Elkins who came to retrieve his gun told her he’d never seen the man before he tried to steal from him.

“Bastard took what was mine and I let him,” Elkins complained. “I still don’t know what got into me.”

The one certainty in her life, besides her hunting skill, is John Winchester. Her John. But hunting and John are two separate worlds, and Mary intends to keep them that way with every fiber of her being. She can’t stand the thought of sullying John’s innocence with knowledge of the supernatural world. She can’t bear for him to know about all the evil things that roam the earth; he’s seen enough in Vietnam.

Mary lets him think her parents’ deaths were tragic accidents. Her mother had fallen down the stairs and broken her neck. Her father had fallen on his knife trying to catch her and the wound had triggered a psychotic break which resulted in the bizarre behavior John had witnessed. John agreed to Mary’s request that they tell anyone who asked that Mary’s father died of a heart-attack in response to his wife’s death. It was simpler that way, prevented any further discussion of that night.

Now, after a month of dead-ends and fruitless searches, Mary’s on a hunt again.

It’s the only thing that keeps her sane. Hunting gives her purpose, makes her feel she’s doing something – anything – to combat the ache in her chest left by her parents’ deaths. If she can bring down some evil, rid the world of a few more things that destroy families like hers, then maybe her parents won’t have died in vain. Maybe she can turn her grief into a little bit of a force for good.

And when the final silver bullet finds its mark and all three werewolves lie dead at her feet, Mary feels a temporary calming sensation that’s almost like relief.

This, she can do. This, she’s good at.



July, 1975

”I have to go,” she tells John. She’s seen the reports in the newspaper, talked to a couple of hunters. Another pack of werewolves are eating families on camping trips, in Minnesota this time. “I have to see my cousins in Minnesota.”

Mary and John have been married for three months, and she’s already left him twice.

He’s surprisingly understanding about it. He knows Mary’s been traumatized by her parents' deaths. He seems to think she needs to connect with her remaining relatives as a way to deal. John was in Vietnam, and he's seen his share of the kind of horror that makes people numb and broken inside. He seems to believe that Mary's little weekend escapes are perfectly understandable.

Mary’s grateful that John’s so accepting, but the truth is, she would go even if he fought her on it. She needs to hunt. It’s something she can do well, something that makes her feel confident and competent. Hunting gives her back the sense of control over her life that she lost when her parents died.

And deep down inside, although she’ll never admit it out loud, she knows it’s who she really is. It’s her destiny, just as her father said.

**//**//**

Sometimes the monsters she hunts know her. Sometimes they taunt her.

“Little Mary, quite contrary,” one particularly nasty shapeshifter sneers just before she whacks his head off with a silver machete. “You think you can live some nice, suburban life? You think you can escape who you really are? You’re a killer, Mary. That’s all you’ll ever be.”

Every time Mary kills a monster, she does it to destroy a little piece of that killer inside her.

But the thing is, the more she does it, the more she needs it. She needs to kill so she can go back to John with her batteries recharged and her spirit refreshed. She needs the strength it gives her, the courage to face the life she has chosen.

She needs it to be a better wife.

**//**//**

Living the life of a normal suburban housewife takes its toll. Sometimes she feels completely out of her element. She feels like she’s living somebody else's life. Like something’s fundamentally wrong.

Then she gets the itch to hunt, the way she often does when she’s feeling out-of-sorts and miserable. Usually the itch is triggered by a news report of some joggers whose hearts were ripped out or a family that was mauled by bears on a camping trip. Mary feels the pull of that itch for two or three days, until it becomes a restlessness she can’t ignore.

When that restlessness finally overwhelms her, she takes off. She grabs her duffel full of hunting tools from its hiding place in the upstairs linen closet, slips on her jeans and black t-shirt under a worn flannel, and leaves. Sometimes she tells John she needs to visit relatives or friends in North Dakota or Wisconsin and she'll be back in a couple of days. Sometimes she just leaves a note.


October 31, 1983

Dean doesn’t nap much anymore, but he still takes a “quiet time” in his room every afternoon. If Mary’s lucky, as she is today, Sam’s sleeping at the same time.

She spreads her research out on the floor of the living room. It’s the largest room in the house, and it’s the best she can do without covering the walls with pictures of dead things. She needs to see the patterns. Crop failures. Freak electrical storms. Okay, those are common this time of year. The overall weather patterns have been bizarre over the past couple of years. Nothing too strange, but worrisome nonetheless.

Mary wishes she’d paid more attention to her father’s lessons on demons. She has this awful prickling sensation under her skin that tells her this might be that. If she could just talk to him about it…

The baby monitor lights up as little Sam’s waking-up noises crackle over the line. Soon his little gurgles and coos will turn into insistent cries, and she’ll be back on duty.

She gathers her papers together and shoves them back into the big, flat storage box, slides the whole thing under the couch for later.

Back to the salt mines.



June, 1979

After Dean’s birth, things get weird.

It isn’t just the late-night feedings or the constant diaper changes or the fear that she can’t be a good mother. It isn’t the sleeplessness or the baby-blues or all the ways her body’s betrayed her. It isn’t just that she feels like an imposter, pretending to be a mother the way she pretended to be a wife. She goes through the motions, caring for Dean the way the books say, checking in with the doctor regularly so she can confirm that everything is going according to plan. Dean’s a happy, healthy baby by all accounts, and she understands that she’s expected to take pride in that.

And she does. It isn’t that she doesn’t love Dean. She does. Just as she loves John. This is her family, and if there’s one thing that’s been ingrained in Mary from the time she was a baby herself, it’s that family always comes first. Family is always the most important thing. Everything you do in life, you do for them.

Mary gets that. She really does. But the itch won’t go away.

If anything, it gets stronger after Dean’s born. She feels it like a living thing under the surface of her too-soft skin, scratching to get out. She feels it in her head, a constant low-level buzzing that tickles behind her eyes and makes them sting with unshed tears.

She needs to kill so that she can be a better mother.

**//**//**

This time, John isn’t quite so understanding.

“Dean’s barely six months old, Mary,” he complains when she tells him she has to go. They’re in their room, getting ready for bed.

“He’ll be fine,” Mary assures him. “He’s sitting up, taking solid food. Mrs. Wallace loves him. She’ll keep him for a couple of days so you can still go to work.”

“Mary, it’s not a good time,” John insists. “I’m working with Guenther. We’re in the middle of the deal to buy the garage, you know that…”

“It’ll be fine,” Mary says. “I’ll just be gone a couple of days, John. It’s been over a year since I’ve seen my cousins, and I really need to go.”

“So take Dean with you,” John suggests. “I’m sure your cousins would love to meet him.”

“That’s not possible.” Mary shakes her head sharply.

John huffs out a breath. “Why not? He’s family, isn’t he? Even if those cousins of yours won’t accept your husband, they sure as hell can’t turn away your son!”

“John…”

“Well, it’s true, isn’t it? Who are these people I’ve never met? Why won’t they let us meet them? What makes them so special that you have to leave us, Mary?”

Mary takes a deep breath, lets it out slow. “It’s complicated, John. You know that.”

“What’s so complicated?” John insists. “Don’t these people realize you have a family of your own now? We’re your family, Mary. Dean and me!”

Mary sighs. “I know. I’m sorry, John. I – I just have to go.”

John stares at her, his muscular frame practically shaking with frustration, and Mary’s glad she’s already put Dean to bed. In this mood, and with a couple of beers in him already, John’s primed for a fight. Or a fuck. Maybe both.

John clenches his jaw, clearly struggling to control his feelings. “I hate it when you go,” he growls, but his voice is lower, his anger dissipating.

“I know,” Mary breathes.

John steps closer, reaching for her. There’s a moment when his eyes flash dark and Mary remembers why she fell in love with him. John Winchester is a sweet, gentle man, but underneath that quiet surface lurks a passionate, determined fighter. Mary counts on John’s strength more than she will ever admit, even to herself. John’s fiercely protective of her and Dean. He would give his life for theirs, if he had to.

Mary shivers, and John pulls her into his arms, tangling his fingers in her hair as he hugs her tightly against him. “Be safe,” he whispers into her ear.

“Always am,” she murmurs against his lips as he kisses her.

Only later does she wonder if he knows, if he understands that she needs to put herself in danger in order to feel safe again. Maybe he recognizes her need for a normal life as a way to keep a lid on the terror that threatens to burst forth from the walls and lawns of their nice, ordinary neighborhood.

Mary’s a killer, just like John had been in the war, but unlike Mary, John still has his innocence, still believes in happy endings. Mary’s determined to protect that innocence at all costs.

She leaves first thing the next morning.



October 31, 1983

“Mary? It’s Aunt Debbie.”

She listens as Debbie Campbell tells her about a nest of vampires that have taken up residence just across the border in Nebraska.

“I’ll look into it,” Mary promises. “I’m taking the kids trick-or-treating tonight when John gets home from work, then I’ll make some calls.”

“Thanks, Mary. We knew we could count on you.”

She suppresses the little thrill in her stomach. It’s been over a year since her last hunt. She tries not to think about how much she needs this.

**//**//**

“I have to go.” Mary tells John when he gets home from work that evening.

The dinner she tried to cook came out undercooked and disgusting, so she ordered pizza to be delivered. Now they’re all sitting around the kitchen table, eating it. Baby Sam likes the mashed carrots and peas she feeds him, so for the moment he’s content. Mary’s grateful. Really, she is.

“Go where?” John asks, taking a swig of his beer.

“North,” Mary answers, keeping her eyes on the baby as she spoons more carrots into his mouth. “My cousins in Nebraska just lost their dad. They need my help.”

“So we’ll all go,” John says. “I still haven’t met these cousins of yours.”

Mary licks her lips, gives her head a little shake. “No, I need to go alone. They’re not good with strangers.”

“Damn it, Mary, I’m your husband,” John says. “We’ve been married eight years now. I’m not just some stranger.”

“To them you are,” Mary says. “John, you know how my family is. They don’t welcome outsiders easily.”

“Don’t welcome them at all, you mean,” John grumbles. “How long does it take for these people to figure out I’m family, too?”

Mary sighs. “Please, John. I just need a couple of days. I’ll be home Wednesday evening at the latest.”

John scowls, but Mary knows he’ll let her go. He always does.

The doorbell rings, and it’s two devils and an angel, all about three-and-a-half feet tall.

“Trick-or-treat!”

John stays home to open the door for the candy-beggars while Mary dresses an excited Dean in his bright yellow fire-fighter costume. She bundles Sam up in a bumble-bee sleeper and calls it a win. At least they’re matching, and she gets a private kick out of Sam having a stinger.

“You’re my little secret weapon, aren’t you, love?” she coos to the baby as she tucks him into his stroller. He falls asleep five minutes into their walk, eliciting exclamations from the neighbors as they go door-to-door.

“What a beautiful baby!” a neighbor says.

“A little bumble bee! How adorable! You must love your sister,” an elderly woman remarks to Dean.

“He’s my brudder,” Dean corrects as he accepts the candy she offers with wide, delighted eyes.

“Oh, look! They match!” says another neighbor to her husband as they open their door. Mary beams. At least someone noticed her efforts.

When they get home, it’s almost impossible to get Dean to settle down. Mary makes him choose five pieces of candy, then puts the rest away. Sam’s awake again so she takes both children into the bathroom while she runs a bath for them.

“Bubbles!” Dean exclaims as she slides Sam into his bath seat, facing his brother in the tub. Sam splashes delightedly, soaking Mary to the skin before she manages to bathe both children thoroughly. Dean runs his submarine under the surface of the soapy water and plays peek-a-boo with it to make Sam laugh. Mary washes Dean’s hair and he doesn’t complain once when the shampoo drips into his eyes. Sam stares intently at Dean and Mary grins.

“He looks funny with his hair all wet, doesn’t be?” she says to the baby. “Makes him look like Steve McQueen.”

She tickles Sam as she lifts him out of the bathtub, wrapping his small, slippery body in a bath towel. She lays him on the floor while she helps Dean out of the tub, and Sam kicks his bare legs and laughs so that his dimples show and his eyes sparkle.

“Momma has to be out tomorrow night,” she tells Dean as she dries him off. “So you help Daddy get Sam bathed and changed, okay?”

“Okay, Momma.” Dean nods solemnly, his big green eyes wide and serious.

“Mrs. Wallace will pick you up from preschool tomorrow,” Mary goes on. “She’ll stay with you and Sam until Daddy gets home from work, then she’ll be there to help you get to school on Wednesday morning. She’ll stay till Daddy gets home one more time, then I’ll be home to tuck you into bed.”

“Okay,” Dean nods again.

“That’s my good boy,” Mary coos as she ruffles his hair. She plants a kiss on his temple, holds his head for a moment so she can breathe in his clean, little boy smell.

I do it for you, she thinks. I do it all for you. To keep you safe.

After she finally gets the kids to sleep, it’s after nine o’clock. John’s watching TV with an open beer in his hand, so she figures she has a few minutes to make her calls.

“It’s vampires, all right,” her Omaha connection confirms. “They’re feeding in and around Lincoln. Little farms, area bars, all reporting deaths or injuries caused by exsanguination.”

“Got it,” Mary nods. “I’m on my way.”



November 2, 1983

It’s a milk run. After a few hours of interviews, she finds the nest hiding out in a barn less than twenty miles outside Lincoln. She waits till daybreak, when they’re sleeping, then takes them out one by one. Five cleanly sliced-off heads, all in a row. They never know what hit them.

She drags the bodies out back, digs a shallow communal grave, sets them on fire. It’s not even late afternoon, and the job’s done. She takes a few minutes to wash the blood off before packing up to go home. She promised Dean she’d be home in time to tuck him into bed, but now it looks like she’ll be home for supper.

Win-win.

**//**//**

“Mommy!”

Dean throws himself into her arms as she comes through the kitchen door from the driveway, and Mary laughs as she hugs him.

“You’re home early,” John comments as he kisses her. He’s got Sam in his arms and Mary scoops the baby up, kissing his soft head.

“Didn’t you go to work today?” she asks as she settles Sam in one arm, over her hip.

“Nah, I decided it would be a good day to take off, stay home with the munchkins. See how the other half lives.”

The kitchen is a mess, and Mary knows without looking that the rest of the house is, too.

“I brought supper,” she announces, and John looks so relieved she just has to kiss him again. Sam wiggles between them and pulls on her hair, and Dean dashes into the living room to retrieve his army men so they can have supper, too.

The Winchesters gather around the tiny kitchen table and share Chinese take-out and blueberry pie. Sam gets it all over his face until he looks like a squished blueberry, and Dean looks blissed-out with his mouth full and blue-stained lips.

“He looks high,” John whispers, and Mary giggles.

He doesn’t ask her how the trip went. He never does, anymore. Maybe he doesn’t want to know. Maybe he’s afraid Mary will tell him something he doesn’t want to hear. Maybe he just accepts that this is the way it is between them, that Mary will always have this other life, this secret thing she does because it keeps her from going off the deep end.

Maybe one day she’ll tell him. Sometimes she thinks she should, just to clear the air and put them on equal footing. After all, she’s fairly sure she knows everything there is to know about John Winchester. He’s an open book, her John. It’s one of the things she loves most about him.

But then again, maybe he likes her this way. Maybe he likes her inscrutability. Maybe he likes being married to someone with a mystery he doesn’t really want to solve.

No, she’ll never tell. After ten years of living her double life, it’s a pretty safe bet she’ll be able to keep it up indefinitely. She’s so practiced at covering her tracks and keeping her two lives separated, she can’t even imagine a situation where her identities might accidentally overlap.

Besides, if she’s honest with herself, she really wouldn’t have it any other way. As difficult as it is sometimes, she’s managed to integrate her professional life with her family life. She’s found the balance that the magazines talk about, and she’s in control. It’s not exactly the way she planned it, but it’s working, for the most part. She’s having it all.

The main thing is, her sons will grow up normally, without the pain and tragedy that haunted Mary’s childhood. She’s giving them what she never had, and their future is brighter than hers could ever be. They’ll never know what their mother did to try to make the world a little safer, to help rid the world of evil.

And that’s the way it should be. That’s how it’s supposed to go.

When she tucks Dean in that night, she places a kiss on his forehead, just where she kissed baby Sam earlier, swearing a silent oath as she does. She promises to keep him safe and seals the promise with a kiss. A blessing.

“Night night,” she tells him softly. “Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed-bugs bite.”
Tags: pre-series, spn-summergen
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