The scent of garlic bread and tomato sauce snapped Sam out of the book he’d been reading. Wandering into the kitchen, he was thrilled to see that Dean was draining a large pot of pasta for their dinner.
It hadn’t been all that long since they’d shifted into their new roles as mostly consulting hunters, and Sam still caught himself feeling restless now and then. Home cooked meals in the bunker for the two of them (or whoever else happened to be around), full nights of sleep (relatively speaking), and the opportunity to read just for the sake of reading (most of the time) took some getting used to. Not that either of them were complaining.
Life for the Winchesters after the most recent and hopefully last apocalyptic event wasn’t what they had expected it would be. In the past, they had always held onto the chance that at least one or possibly both of them would come out the other side still breathing. This time around, Sam was pretty sure that wasn’t going to happen, and so was Dean. There had even been a few days where they allowed themselves to talk about their emotions openly, to each other and to their friends, because they had figured this was it. Certainly for them, possibly for the whole damn world.
Somehow, though, with a wild combination of determination, help from other people, and pure dumb luck, here they both were, eating spaghetti in a Chuck-less world.
They didn’t have linen napkins or a tablecloth. Heaven and the angels still existed, as well as Hell and its demons, and most of the monsters they’d been dealing with all their lives. But after the worst year they’d ever lived through (and that was really saying something), Dean and Sam had decided it was time to slow down. They weren’t getting any younger. Dean’s trick knee kept getting trickier. Sam’s recovery from the not-bullet wound in his shoulder had been slow and painful. The occasional hunt still popped up that they’d take themselves, but they were exceptionally grateful to have made it through the past year and were ready to start acting like it.
The dinner dishes were washed and put away, leftovers stored in the fridge, and several episodes of the Great British Bake Off were waiting on Netflix. After all these years, finally there was a sofa and a few comfortable chairs in the bunker. When Sam’s phone rang, he was sorely tempted to ignore it.
One of the hunters they’d met over the course of the past year was working a case that she thought might involve a curse or similar magic. After a quick rundown of what had happened so far, Sam was certain the hunter was correct. He advised her to back off for now, and give him until the next day to see what he and Dean could find out before she went any further into the case.
“Why don’t you call Rowena?”, Dean asked. “We haven’t heard from her in months. Ever since that thing at the cemetery in Harlan, I guess.”
And yeah, Sam didn’t have to be reminded. He knew how long it had been. He also knew why it had been so long, though of course Dean had no idea.
They had come damn close to losing Rowena that day in the crypt, which meant Sam had come dangerously close to killing her just like all of Billie’s books prophesied. Given the situation, it had seemed that it was the only way out of their current predicament. Fortunately Castiel had come up with another solution at the very last possible second. Rowena had barely hesitated at the prospect of giving up her own life, and even Sam had almost been convinced it was necessary in the moment.
At the end of that very long ordeal, everyone ended up back at the bunker in a bit of a daze. Emotions were running high for all of them. It was the first moment of rest Sam, Dean, or Castiel had gotten since the initial showdown with Chuck. With everything that happened, including the demon possession, there had been no time to properly mourn the loss of Jack. There was no way to know what to expect next. After cleaning up, Rowena joined Sam and Dean for some dinner (or maybe breakfast, no one was thinking about the time of day), none of them mentioning Castiel’s conspicuous absence from the table.
An unexpected knock at Sam’s bedroom door brought a visit from Rowena, looking so much tinier than usual in bare feet and a t-shirt almost long enough to be a nightgown. Something about the look in her eyes left no question about the reason she was there, and Sam didn’t hesitate a moment to gather her up in his arms and lead them both to his bed. Their first kiss felt like it had been coming for a very long time, and if Sam was being honest with himself, it really had. Rowena’s skin was as soft under his hands as he’d imagined, but the experience was more amazing than even his best fantasies. The first time was faster than he wanted, but after that they took their time, making everything last as long as possible.
Of course, nothing can last forever. When he asked if she was going to spend the night there with him, Rowena looked regretful but said she’d better get back to the guest room they’d given her. As much as they may have enjoyed their dalliance, as she called it, they both needed to be realistic. There was a laundry list of reasons why a romantic relationship between them would be a bad idea. Sam had to admit that a romantic relationship of any kind, with anyone, would be a bad idea right now. He couldn’t imagine turning down an opportunity to take her to bed again, but he had never been a fan of hookups and he knew his feelings for Rowena would prevent anything either of them could call casual.
The next morning she’d taken off with no more than a wave in their direction when she reached the top of the steps, and they’d never heard from her again. It really wasn’t much of a surprise, and it was probably best for everyone involved.
Sam realized he might have been quiet for just a bit too long, and Dean was giving him a look. “Yeah, it’s pretty late, though. Maybe I should wait until tomorrow.”
Dean’s look intensified. “Dude, it’s a quarter to eight. Call her.”
Nodding casually, Sam resisted the urge to walk into another room to make this call and accessed her contact information. After several rings, he heard “This is Rowena’s phone. If you leave your number, I may just call you back.”
With a deep breath, he waited for the tone and said, “Hey Rowena, it’s Sam, uh, Winchester...can you give me a call please? Or Dean, you could call Dean. You might be able to answer some questions we have. About a case. With magic. And - I mean, just call us when you can.”
After pressing the disconnect button, he turned around to see his brother looking like he was assessing him for a head injury. “What the hell was that? Sam, uh, Winchester? Really?”
“What?”, Sam asked, trying very hard not to look defensive.
“That weird ass message is what. And why the hell would she call me, you know she doesn’t like me. Not the same way she likes you”, Dean replied. “Don’t act like you never noticed her crush.”
Fluttering his lashes, Dean kept at it, imitating Rowena’s sing-song Scottish accent, “Samuel, you’re so big and strong-”
Before things got even more silly, Sam threw the television remote at Dean, who predictably caught it without even turning his head.
“You sound ridiculous. Are we gonna watch these shows or what?”
Dean smiled and settled onto the sofa. “Yeah, yeah.”
Sam was still thinking about Rowena when he climbed into his bed a couple of hours later.
And he was still thinking about her when he’d left three messages without getting a return call. Honestly, they didn’t even need to talk to her now, since they’d already figured out a way to help with the case their fellow hunter was working. Sam knew he and Rowena had agreed not to let themselves fall into bed together again, but there was never any hint that she’d never want to speak to him again. And definitely not that she wouldn’t be willing to help him and Dean if they asked.
Dean was onto him, too. Enough that he admitted he was a bit worried as well, and to remind Sam that he was pretty sure he could find her using the GPS locator from her phone.
It didn’t take long to track her down. Kansas City, Missouri was only a couple of hours away. Dean and Sam were surprised she was living there, but not so surprised that she had taken up residence in the penthouse of a luxury downtown hotel. Definitely not too far away to check in on her.
It was almost a shock when Sam heard the door being unlocked and the knob being turned. He had just about convinced himself she wouldn’t answer the door even if she was inside. The door opened just enough for them to walk through before Rowena went behind them to lock it again. When Rowena turned around to face them, Sam thought he might be having some kind of weird hallucination, except that Dean was obviously seeing the exact same thing.
They were looking at Rowena - her hair down, her makeup very subtle, and her belly protruding as though she were heavily pregnant. Neither of them seemed to be capable of speaking.
“Hello, Dean. Samuel”, she said. “To what do I owe the pleasure of a personal visit?” She was holding her expression steady but Sam could see in her eyes a swirling mixture of defiance, uncertainty, and just a bit of amusement.
Sam didn’t get a chance to say anything before Dean blurted out, “What the hell, Rowena? Are you - are you pregnant?”
“My dear, certainly you know that’s an impolite question to ask a lady”, she replied, giving him a look of mock offense.
“We’ve been worried about you because you didn’t return Sam’s calls, and you’re just hanging out here...like that? I guess you didn’t want us to find out?”, Dean asked incredulously.
Still, Sam said nothing. All of his brain function was taken up doing simple arithmetic. It couldn’t be, he thought, surely there was no way this could have...but as he counted backward the days and weeks and months, it definitely added up. There must be some other explanation.
Rowena stood up a bit taller and responded, “No, actually, I didn’t. I hadn’t decided whether or not I was going to tell Samuel about this particular development.”
Feeling his knees start to go a bit weak, Sam remained silent, not really sure which words were appropriate. Obviously he would have preferred to have this conversation without Dean in the room, but that ship had already sailed.
Now Dean was staring at Sam, looking back and forth between him and Rowena - specifically Rowena’s belly. “Something you want to share with the class, Sammy?”
“Uh”, was Sam’s brilliant response. “Um, right, so - no, not really. Maybe you and I can talk, and Rowena and I can talk, but, like, separately? Yeah, separately, that would be better”, he finally managed to get out.
“Well, I can see the merit there, but, seriously. You didn’t think to-”, he stopped and turned back toward Rowena. “Did you tell him that you had some magical way of avoiding an outcome like this?”
Oh, and there she was, the Rowena they’d known and hated and kind of liked and depended on and worked with and were grateful to all these years. “Dean Winchester, I am well over three hundred years old! You’ll have to forgive me for assuming my childbearing years were long past. I didn’t plan for this to happen any more than your brother did.”
“Yeah, my brother seems to have a hard time controlling his libido around supernatural women”, Dean sneered in response. The comment was like a kick in the gut to Sam. He had no idea Dean still held those things against him. Madison? Ruby?
Immediately, Rowena raised her voice. “Excuse me, boyo! One hundred percent human being right here! My magic doesn’t make me some kind of monster, you bampot!”
“That so? How’d you get hooked up with this fancy penthouse? Leave a hex bag in some poor bastard’s briefcase so he’d think it belonged to you now?”
“Well well, look who’s riding in on their high horse, casting aspersions on how someone’s money and possessions are acquired. I’m fairly certain I never crept into the details on how you pay for all the motels, the tech you’ve got in the bunker, the upkeep for that monstrosity of a car-”
All right, things were definitely getting out of hand now. “Okay, both of you, cut it out, please”, Sam said quietly.
Turning toward Sam, Rowena collected herself. “Samuel, you and your brother go home. Now. I’m sorry for worrying you, and I know we need to talk. I’ll meet you there. Give me a day.”
She walked back to the door, unlocked it and held it open. And that was that, they walked out and started the terribly awkward, silent, uncomfortable four hour drive back to Lebanon. Not even any shitty cassette tapes from before Sam was born.
Once they got home, Sam poured himself a bourbon and sat at the kitchen table, still trying to process all this new information. It wasn’t long before Dean cleared his throat from the doorway.
“Mind if I join you?”, he asked.
“Go ahead”, Sam replied. He was still pretty angry with his brother for the whole scene that had taken place earlier. Dean seemed to sense that as he sat down across from Sam.
After pouring his own drink, Dean said, “Sam, I’m sorry. I was out of line. And what I said about you and supernatural women, that was - more than out of line. I didn’t mean it, I swear, I was just so shocked-”
“You?”, Sam asked, “You were shocked? Are you fucking kidding me? How do you think I feel? And how do you think you made Rowena feel? Interrogating us about birth control like a couple of teenagers, you’re such an asshole.”
“I know, okay? I know. And I’m sorry, and I’ll apologize to her, just as soon as I see her.”
Sam still didn’t have everything out of his system. “You’re the last person to be lecturing me on slip-ups using protection, Dean. Not that I owe you an explanation, but the thought didn’t even cross my mind. For obvious reasons. And you’re not entitled to know about every person I go to bed with, either.”
Dean took a swallow of his bourbon before responding. “Look, I told you I’m sorry. And you’re right. I’m not even trying to defend myself here. I was a dick and I know it, so if you’re done being pissed off we can talk about this whole...situation with Rowena. If you want to talk about it.”
“Of course I want to talk about it”, Sam said, because of course he wanted to talk about it, and even when he was being an enormous jerk, Dean was still his big brother. “Why the hell didn’t she tell me?”
Pouring each of them another drink, Dean replied, “There could be a hundred reasons. I guess you won’t know until she tells you. My question is, how are you feeling about this? Other than freaked out?”
Sam wasn’t sure how to answer that question. “I don’t think I’ve gotten too far past freaked out. But when I get to where I can see beyond that a bit, it’s just strange. I think I always could have imagined you as a dad, but me? That idea’s so long gone I barely remember it. That guy who thought about having a family, I’m not him anymore.”
“He’s still in there, Sammy. It does seem pretty crazy, though. I mean, at your age, after everything…”
“Sure, Dean, but there might not be much to think about after all. Who knows what’s happening in her head? Maybe Rowena doesn’t want me to have anything to do with this.”
Dean shot him an incredulous look. “You don’t think she could have found a way to avoid you knowing about it? To keep you from finding her? Come on. If that’s what she wanted she’d be halfway around the world.”
“Maybe you’re right”, Sam said, conceding the point.
“Look, I just want you to be happy, okay? And I’m gonna take off before she gets here. Don’t worry, I’ll grovel appropriately when I get back, but I figure you can have this conversation with Rowena without me hanging around.”
The next morning, Sam took Rowena’s bag as soon as she walked in the door, then offered his arm for balance when they started down the steps.
“I’m pregnant, Samuel, not an invalid. I can navigate these stairs just fine.”
Of course Sam was instantly sheepish and mumbling apologies about making assumptions. By the time they got to the bottom, Rowena put her arm on his chest and said, “Can’t we just try to do this like two regular people having a conversation? Without the awkwardness? We’ve known each other too long, and clearly too well, to worry about hurt feelings. You’re just you, and I’m just - well, I’m me and this baby. So let’s talk about it, right?”
Rowena had a seat on the sofa while Sam went into the kitchen to make them some tea. The caffeine would do him good, after the sleepless night he’d had the night before.
Setting the tea and milk and sugar on its tray, then onto the small table by the sofa, Sam tried very hard to take calming breaths and get into this conversation.
“You must have so many questions, Samuel. I’ll answer anything I can, and it’ll be the truth, I give you my word.”
“Rowena, I trust you. You came within seconds of literally sacrificing your life to save us, and to save total strangers. I’m just trying to understand how this happened. I mean, I know how - kind of - but how?"
“Now that, I can’t say I know for certain. Maybe something to do with having lost Fergus. Maybe all of the magic that was around both of us that day caused an unexpected result. Maybe a fluke, but we all know how unlikely that is for people like us”, she replied with a smile.
“You didn’t go very far away. Have you been there the whole time? Did you think about, you know, all of your options?”
“If you want to know whether I considered terminating the pregnancy, yes, I did consider it. But then I thought, look around yourself, Rowena. Maybe the universe is handing you an opportunity here. A chance to be a proper mum, a chance to do it right this time.”
Sam was surprised at the tone of her voice, the look on her face - wistful and hopeful at once. “And by doing it right you mean...keeping this baby? You want to be a mother again?”
Rowena shook her head. “I was hardly a mother before. You know that. And I think I wanted to at least try to get this part of it right. I’ve been alone, but that was my own choice. I didn’t feel helpless or terrified or weak. There are so many things I never would have imagined all those centuries ago. Doctor visits, prenatal vitamins, yoga for pregnant women. A clean home, a healthy diet, the means to provide for myself. It’s all just different levels of comfort, of safety. That was my primary concern, before getting you involved.”
“I understand that. What I’d like to know, really, is whether you want me to be a part of this child’s life. I mean, you didn’t even tell me about it and it kind of seems like you’re just about done with this part.”
Rowena laughed, a gentle and sparkling sound. “I am, in fact. This baby’s what the doctors call fully cooked. My official due date isn’t for a little more than two weeks, but really it could be anytime now. I told the doctors that I’m 36, do you think they’re buying it?”
And it was Sam’s turn to laugh now. “You could definitely pass for 36, Rowena. I’ve never thought you looked a day over three hundred”, he said, ducking when a couch pillow was tossed in his direction. “Wait, how old are you, really? And don’t give me the whole it’s rude to ask business.”
“I’m 366 years old. Does that change the way you feel?”
“No, it does not. I always had a general idea, I was just curious. You and I have more in common than most people might think. That overwhelming desire to be strong, to avoid any kind of weakness. And though it started in different ways, a lot of those feelings are tied to Lucifer for both of us. It’s not something you can heal from, entirely, but I think we’ve both started to move on, especially now that he’s truly gone.” Sam was still waiting for an answer to his earlier question, though.
Rowena agreed, and said, “I do want you to be a part of this. In a physical way, you already are, but we’ll work out the rest.”
Of course Dean chose that moment to return, though he earned some points bringing dinner from Sam’s favorite steakhouse in the next town over.
Once they settled down at the table to eat, Dean kept his promise. “Rowena, I owe you an apology.”
“You certainly do”, she responded before he could even get started. So. Maybe things weren’t going to change all that much between Dean and Rowena.
Dean pressed on, though. “I made a complete ass of myself, and I hope you can forgive me for the way I spoke to you.”
He definitely sounded sincere. Rowena must have thought so too, as she accepted his apology and acknowledged there was a history of distrust between them. They managed to make it through dinner with several long pauses in conversation and mainly superficial topics. When Rowena mentioned she was getting tired, Sam showed her to a bedroom he’d made up as soon as he found out she was coming, just in case.
Once they were alone, Sam let his guard down and said to Dean, “What the actual fuck? I don’t know anything about babies! They make me nervous and uncomfortable. You’re the one who’s good with kids!”
“Yeah, well I wasn’t the one who got to fifth base with the most powerful witch we’ve ever known, so. And you can stop with the puppy dog eyes. I’m going to be around to help, if you want me around. Hell, I bet Rowena could use a few pointers herself.”
Sam pulled Dean into a bear hug. “Thanks, Dean. That means so much to me.”
Dean responded with a gruff, “Fine, fine, get off me.”
With a smile, Sam headed to his room, but then thought better of it. He crossed the hall to where Rowena was and knocked on the door.
“Come in, Samuel”, she called.
“Hi. Um. So hey, you know, if you want to share a bed, we can do that. You don’t have to! I mean, don’t feel obligated. Just - if you ever want to, you can - you can sleep with me, or I could stay in here with you, or…”, he trailed off to stop himself babbling.
Rowena had a genuine smile on her face. “Not now, dear, but yes, I think I will want that, eventually. Do you want me to stay here for - well, to stay here and live here? With you and Dean?”
“Only if you want to. You’re welcome here, I know it’s not quite as five-star as what you’re used to but you are absolutely welcome to stay here with us for as long as you want. Or if you want to live someplace else, with me or by yourself, you know, I’d hope you wouldn’t go too far away once you have the baby. You don’t have to live with me, here or anywhere else. I just want you to know I’m supportive of whatever you decide.”
Sam was shocked to see tears in Rowena’s eyes. “I’m not going to take the baby far away from you, I swear. What you’re offering me, a home - I haven’t had a real home since I was a girl.”
“Well, you’ve got one now if you want it. And we’ll just see how things go.”
How things went were fast - very fast. They’d barely gotten a room set up for Rowena and the baby when the fateful day came. Dean was helping someone on a hunt two states away and Sam was torn between wanting his brother there to share this experience and wanting to have this experience with Rowena without sharing it with Dean. In the end, it worked out perfectly. The labor and delivery were blessedly uneventful, and Dean arrived after Sam and Rowena had gotten a whole day in the hospital with their new little one and were just about ready to go home.
Epilogue - Two Years Later
It might not be a big surprise that one big happy family in the Men of Letters bunker wasn’t a resounding success for very long. Fortunately, there were strong enough bonds between all involved that they still found a way to make things work.
Sam and Rowena found a great house in Lebanon that needed just the right amount of fixing up, and just the kind that Sam (mostly) knew how to do. It had plenty of space for their little family, and a room he could use for research to continue assisting with hunts from a distance. Being a father ended his hands-on hunting career, but that was an easy trade for Sam. There was even a little building out back where he kept up his magical education. No, he’d never be a witch, but he definitely knew much more than most hunters did. Rowena was enchanted with all things involved in motherhood. She didn’t mind small town life a bit, so long as they got a big city vacation in once or twice a year.
Dean stayed in the bunker and frequently hosted both friends and other hunters, keeping up with his new role of just-about-retired hunter. His most important role, though, was Uncle Dean to Heather Mary MacLeod Winchester.
Sam had a hard time believing, some days when he woke up next to Rowena, that he’d find love and happiness and peace like this. But then he bounced his red haired, hazel eyed little girl on his knee and knew that somehow, all his roads had ended up leading him here.