caranfindel (caranfindel) wrote,

Fic: Take these broken wings and learn to fly (15.20 coda)

Take these broken wings and learn to fly

Genre: Het, I guess? Gencest? Doesn't conflict with Wincest
Length: About 2300 words
Rating: PG
Characters: Sam Winchester and family
Synopsis: Sam's life after 15.20, from his wife's POV

Julia has been widowed (God, what an awful word, widowed) for three years when she meets Sam. It's a work-based friendship at first. She's kind of lonely and sad, he's kind of lonely and sad, and they gravitate toward each other. And then one evening they're at a bar, the last ones left from an after-work happy hour, both of them drinking more than they should, and she thinks he's kind and thoughtful and smart and he may be 10 years older than me but he's still hot as hell and I enjoy being with him and I look forward to seeing him and maybe I should just… and she kisses him. He's shocked; shocked enough to confirm that he wasn't just hanging around hoping to make it out of the friendzone. And then he's holding her face in his hands and he's kissing her too.

It's good. They're good together. It's not the earth-shattering, all-encompassing romance she had with Shaun. Julia knows she'll never have anything like that again. Most people don't even get one soulmate in their lives; no one gets two. And she knows Sam doesn't have that same desperate love that Shaun had for her; she knows she'll never have his whole heart. (She knows the woman he intended to marry was killed in a fire, she knows another woman he loved went back to her ex. She doesn't know which of these women still owns that last piece of Sam's heart.) But she loves Sam, and he loves her, and they get married.

(The sex is amazing. Sometimes he's gentle, almost reverent, as if he's afraid he'll break her, and other times he's fierce and passionate and almost tries to break her, and she loves both ends of the spectrum.)

She suggests they melt down her old wedding band to make a new one. It was an heirloom from her grandmother, a plain wide band of yellow gold that she loves, that she thought she'd wear for the rest of her life. But Shaun is the one who put it on her finger the first time. It doesn't seem right to ask Sam to accept it now. A new band from the old gold seems like a good compromise. No, Sam says, I couldn't ask you to do that. I know a way we can make it ours. He has the inside of the band engraved with the same symbol he wears tattooed over his heart, and makes her promise to never take it off. Bad luck, he says.

He's such a contradiction. Scary smart, but as superstitious as an Appalachian grandmother. Calm and unflappable, but with a weirdly hyperactive startle reflex. Kind and empathetic, but capable of extreme violence when pushed to his limits (seriously, don't walk your drunk ass up to Sam Winchester's wife and lay hands on her, and don't get mouthy when she tells you to back off) and just really, frighteningly skilled at that violence.

(A little frightening and also very sexy. Julia's always had a thing for the hero type.)

They both have nightmares. One night Julia watches Shaun's face melting under his gear and wakes with a cry of horror. Sam holds her as she tearfully describes living on the knife edge of constant fear that comes with loving someone whose job is literally running into burning buildings. I know, he says, over and over, even though he can't possibly know. The irony of their first loves both dying in flames is not lost on her, but it's not like his college girlfriend was a firefighter. It's not like he watched her go to work every day and prayed she'd make it home alive.

Julia’s pregnancy is a wonderful surprise. She and Shaun had tried for over a year before she was widowed, and she just didn’t count on it happening with Sam. They agree not to name the baby after anyone they've lost. Let's not name him after our pain, she says, and Sam is okay with that. (Or he isn't. But ever since she showed him the positive pregnancy test, she's known she could ask him for anything. She's known he would rip out his heart and serve it on a platter if she asked for it.)

But they haven't decided on a name yet when her water breaks four weeks early. When their perfect baby boy is born at 12:10 a.m., the nurse announces the date and time and Sam looks up at her in shock and blinks away happy tears and says it's the 24th. It's my brother's birthday. Julia is flying high on endorphins; she loves this baby and she loves this man and she even loves his dead brother she never got to meet, and she says it's got to be a sign; let's name him Dean.

She takes off her wedding ring, just this once, to have Dean's birthdate engraved on the inside. Sam does the same with his own ring. He insists they go to a jeweler who will engrave while they wait, rather than leaving the rings there. She waves a hand at her lumpy postpartum body. You afraid someone's gonna make a move on all this if you don't keep a ring on it?

He laughs at her and says you're onto me, even though he's the one who needs to be locked away, still with that long lean runner's body and the amazing shoulders and the goddamn dimples. I just don't like us being without them, he says. He is a sweet, sentimental fool and she adores him. He bends down to kiss her, carefully maneuvering the baby he’s wearing in a sling, and Julia looks at this man and this baby and this life she didn't think she was get to have and knows she's happier than she has any right to be. And she's relieved when Sam slips the ring back onto her finger, this ring imbued with the men she loves, so maybe he's not the only sentimental fool.

(One thing she loves about Sam is that he understands why she feels guilty that Shaun didn't get to share this life with her.)

In July they light a little candle for Dean's six-month birthday. When Julia wakes the next morning, Sam's side of the bed is empty and cold. She finds him cuddling their sleeping baby in the living room. I got up to give him a bottle, Sam says. I guess I just fell asleep out here. His red-rimmed eyes and empty coffee mug suggest he didn't actually sleep at all, but, well. They're both battling their own private demons. If a night cradling the baby gives Sam some peace for whatever reason, she's glad of it.

Sam's fierce love for their child takes her by surprise. If Julia has 90% of his heart, his son has 110%. He parents with a vengeance, is the only way she can think of to describe it. Like he's making up for something. She doesn't feel slighted, but it's impossible to ignore that ever since Dean was born, Sam's prime objective has been to make sure the boy is happy and safe. Everything else comes second.

(When she notices Sam has been carefully marking his tattoo symbol onto Dean's clothing, hidden near seams and always in a color that almost matches the fabric, she decides not to say anything. He gets a little funny about his superstitions sometimes.)

Sam desperately wants Dean to have a sibling, and they try for another one, but it doesn't happen. Julia reminds him that they're lucky to have even one child. That having a sibling is not a lifetime guarantee of companionship and love. She should know, after all, since Stephanie cut her off after she married that asshole Scientologist and decided she couldn't have a relationship with anyone who wasn't also in their stupid cult.

Dean has plenty of friends and tons of activities, which Sam encourages with an almost religious fervor, but he never pulls away from his parents. They have so much in common, Sam and his son. Instead of rebelling as a teenager, Dean seems to grow even closer to his father. They spend hours together, paging through the ancient books in Sam's study (she hates them, they smell musty and make her sneeze) or driving in the old Chevrolet. They even travel together sometimes, visiting those friends of Sam's that live up north somewhere. Julia met them at the wedding and they were perfectly nice, thrilled to death that she and Sam had found each other. But she always feels like an outsider when they're around, like they're part of something she'll never understand. So much history, with Sam and the brother she never got to meet. They absolutely dote on Dean though, and he seems to love them too, so the boys' trip to Sioux Falls becomes an annual event.

(Dean is 14 years old when he comes home from one of these trips with his own version of the tattoo.)

When Julia is diagnosed with cancer, Dean is 16 years old. Sam does his best to ensure life goes on as normal for their son but somehow never neglects Julia's needs. He throws himself into research and is always on top of the latest treatment, always at her elbow with the top internet-recommended remedy for her side effects, making sure both she and Dean have everything they want and need, all the attention and support they can tolerate. She doesn't know when, or if, Sam actually sleeps. When she feels up for it, he arranges experiences for the three of them. A week lying on the beach, a weekend in New York City, a night in the mountains looking at the stars. When we look back on this time, he says, I don't want us to only remember how much it sucked. I want us all to have good memories too.

(She doesn't know why he's concerned about her memories. There's a good chance she won't have much time to enjoy them. But it's good for Dean. She doesn't want this to ruin Dean's childhood.)

Sam insists Dean go away to college as planned. Julia agrees, although she's kind of surprised he's willing to let the boy out of his sight. Aren't you going to miss him? she asks.

So much, he answers. But this isn't about me, and what I need. It's about him. They drive Dean to school in the ancient Chevrolet. Supposedly because the trunk has room for all of his stuff, but Julia is pretty sure it's just one last sentimental road trip in the old thing before Sam retires it. When they pick Dean up at the end of the school year, it's in her SUV. Dean promises his father, more than once, that he'll restore the Chevy someday.

Five years after Julia's diagnosis, she's sitting in the doctor's office learning that her last remission was her last remission. There are no more options. She has months, not years. Sam clutches her hand and nods, once, as if to say I should have known this would happen; I should have expected something like this. Then he takes her home.

It's a blessing in a way, he says late that night, after a little too much to drink. Knowing what's coming. Having time to say goodbye. You don't always get that. And yes, she knows this as well as anybody does.

Sam has always been supportive of her choice not to contact Stephanie, but one day he says Jules, I promise I'll never bring it up again. It's just that I don't want you to have any regrets. I don't want you miss the opportunity to say things that you'll wish you'd said. Julia isn't sure Steph will speak to her. She's not even sure she'll have the same phone number — they haven't spoken since Dad's funeral, a year after she was widowed — but she makes the call. And Steph answers. And cries. And comes to visit, where she hugs and cries some more. Sam watches it all with a sad smile for a while, then disappears into the garage to sit in the old Chevy.

When Julia takes her last conscious breaths, Dean is holding one hand and Sam is holding the other. She squeezes her son’s hand and thinks I love you, dear boy, and I'm sorry I have to leave you. She squeezes her husband’s hand and thinks thank you for giving me this, thank you for taking care of me, thank you for loving me and letting me love you. Then she closes her eyes and lets the soft, warm darkness take over.

And then. Then she wakes to a cool breeze and the sound of chirping birds. She’s standing at a lake she recognizes. It’s Shaun’s favorite fishing spot. And Shaun is there, waiting for her. And everything is okay.

Sam does show up eventually. Julia's sitting on the porch of the cabin with Shaun, enjoying the perpetual nice day (sometimes a spring morning, sometimes a fall afternoon, but always nice) when she hears the familiar rumble. It can't be, she thinks. It can't be that old car. But it is.

I'm glad you found someone with good taste in cars, Shaun says, as Sam unfolds himself from the driver's seat. He looks exactly as he did the day she met him; no glasses, only a little grey at his temples. Still tall and strong and beautiful. She runs to meet him and embraces him as Shaun watches from the porch.

You found Shaun, Sam says. I’m so happy for you, Jules. I really am. He doesn't seem to have any intention of joining her (their) Heaven permanently, but he doesn't seem to have anyone else with him either. Where is the dead girlfriend? How is this fair?

They talk about Dean, and Julia’s heart swells with pride over her strong, smart, kind, brave son. He’s like you, she says. He’s just like you.

Sam shrugs. He’s a Winchester.

But what about you? she says. You’re not — you’re not alone here, are you?

Nah, he says. I’m good. I promise.

(Eventually Julia meets the first Dean, and she understands.)


I know a lot of people have mocked Sam's blurry wife, but I actually have grown to love the concept. Because it means she can be anything we want her to be. And yeah, initially I liked the idea of her being Dr. Cara, or Eileen. But now I don't think that would happen. I think Sam would have to start fresh to have that kind of relationship. And I also like the idea of Sam's wife having her own soulmate somewhere, waiting for her, so she's not a huge part of Sam and Dean's shared Heaven. I mean, they're gonna visit, obviously. And then they'll go home to their soulmates.

The title is from "Blackbird" by the Beatles.
Tags: 15.20 carry on, episode coda, fic: postseries, fic: sam winchester, my fic, supernatural

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