Heaven was perfect.
Sam hadn’t taken long to show up, at least not from Dean’s perspective. Time in Heaven was funny like that; it moved at warp speed and like molasses all at once. He supposed that was the definition of eternity.
Everyone Dean had ever lost, every piece of his family that he’d burned and grieved, now lived within arm’s reach – even Cas, who he’d been so certain he would never see again. Nobody needed to sleep in Heaven, but the two of them lay under the sheets in the cool of night, anyway, curled close. Warm together. Safe together.
The days were as long as he wanted them to be. The weather was always perfect. The beer was always cold. He had all the time in the universe – literally – to do whatever the hell he wanted. Everyone had everything.
Heaven was almost perfect.
But fuck if Dean didn’t miss his kid like hell.
“Where do you think he is?”
Condensation dripped from the bottle in his hand onto the porch of the Roadhouse. Birds chirped their quiet songs in the trees around them. Cas, of course, knew exactly who ‘he’ was.
“I’m…not sure.” Cas tilted his head. The furrow of his brow and the wave of sad longing that washed over his face made Dean wish he hadn’t asked. Cas and Sam undoubtedly missed Jack just as much as he did. “He said he wanted to explore the universe, but the universe is ever-expanding. He could be anywhere.”
That didn’t make Dean feel any better. “Do you think he’d still hear us if we prayed?”
“Of course. He’s God.”
And so, eyes open and head raised with a beer clutched tight in his hand, Dean prayed.
I don’t know where you are, kid, but I hope you’re having fun. Try to drop in and see us every now and then, alright? I love you.
He waited for a moment, a small part of him blindly hoping Jack would appear right away with a lifted hand and an overly formal hello. He didn’t.
Dean took another swig of his beer.
Jack did, eventually, drop in.
Dean couldn’t have said for sure how long it took him – time had become largely irrelevant. It felt like both a lifetime and a nanosecond.
They were gathered in the kitchen of John and Mary’s homey cabin for a family dinner, something that had become a regular occurrence. Mary and Sam bustled around the counters and stove. Cas, entirely inexperienced in cooking, fumbled to help in whatever small way he could. John and Dean, who had been banned from helping in any capacity, stood aside and watched.
One moment, they were all talking and laughing. The next, Jack stood in the doorway, and silence fell.
Dean’s first thought was that he looked…tired. Could God get tired? Jack raised his hand.
Mary was the first to respond. She said, beaming as she stirred the pasta, “Hey, Jack. You’re just in time. It wouldn’t be a family dinner without the entire family, would it?”
At the sound of her voice, a flash of guilt crossed over Jack’s face so quickly that if Dean hadn’t been staring right at the kid, he would have missed it. “I guess not.”
Cas moved in to hug Jack first with the softest exhale of his name, followed by a teary-eyed and smiling Sam. Dean kept his posture still and calm as he itched for his turn to hold their kid.
When Sam stepped back, Jack turned to him with a smile that looked half-fake. “Hi, Dean. I know you died pretty young. I’m sorry about that.”
Dean snorted. “This coming from the same kid who called me an old man right in front of the necromancer?”
His quip had the intended effect: Jack’s smile became a little more real, the corners of his mouth twitching upward. “That was for the case.”
“Sure it was.”
Dean hugged his kid tight, soaking in his warmth. He felt Jack exhale shakily against him, and only let go when John stepped forward to introduce himself.
They had a lot of catching up to do – and, luckily, they had an eternity to do it.
“I’d like to see the bunker again,” Jack said suddenly, once dinner was finished and the dishes had been washed.
Dean leaned back in his seat and shared a fond glance with Sam and Cas. “Sure thing, kid. Want to take the Impala?”
Jack’s face lit up. “That sounds great.”
Even God, Dean supposed, needed to fall back on familiar comforts sometimes.
The bunker was exactly like Dean remembered it – but of course it was. This was Heaven. Why wouldn’t it be?
Team Free Will two-point-oh once again gathered around the kitchen table for a beer. When their bottles clinked together in a toast, it felt, to Dean, like coming home.
“So,” Jack said after his first sip, “what have you guys been up to? Now that you can do – you know – anything?”
Dean snorted. “Aren’t you supposed to be all-knowing? Besides, I think we’d rather hear about your space adventures. Is it anything like Star Wars out there?”
“Yes.” Jack tilted his head. “And…also no. It’s complicated.”
“Wait, seriously?” Sam asked, eyes wide. “Are there, like, other inhabited planets?”
The grin Jack said this with was one Dean could only describe as shit-eating. He laughed as he clapped God himself on the back. Cas took another sip to hide his own smile, and Sam rolled his eyes fondly.
This, Dean couldn’t help but think, was exactly what they always should have been.
The good news?
Now it was what they always would be.
Funny how it took Dean’s first Heaven-trip back to the bunker for him to realize how damn much he’d actually missed it.
He wandered through halls he knew like the back of his hand, ran his fingers delicately over each brick wall, and even peeked into his bedroom (which was, for some reason, much tidier here than it had ever been on Earth).
But the real nostalgia was in Jack’s bedroom. Because when he opened the door, expecting to find it dark and unoccupied, he instead found Jack sitting cross-legged on the center of the bed, zoned out and brooding.
Just like old times.
“Hey, kid,” he said. “You good?”
Jack looked up at him with a smile so obviously forced that it had to be painful. “Yes. I’m good.”
“You’ve always been a shitty liar. Guess becoming the Almighty didn’t change that.”
Jack only shut down, averting his gaze to the sheets.
Oh. So just like old times.
Dean stepped fully into the room and closed the door behind him.
He’d never been great with kids, or with emotions – never been great with Jack in particular, if he was being honest – but he knew the kid well enough to spot his tells. Something was eating at him.
“Alright. Spill.” Dean settled on the edge of the mattress, and rolled his eyes when Jack shot him a faux-confused look. “Is something big going down on Earth? Do we need to step in? Because we will, if we have to. You know that.”
“I’m not hands-on, remember?”
“Alright.” Dean nodded slowly. “Some other planet? I’ve always wanted to use a lightsaber.”
“It’s not…no. Nothing’s wrong. It’s just me.”
A flare of worry ignited in Dean’s gut. It was something he hadn’t felt in a long time. “What about you?”
“I love being God.” Jack looked down at his thumbs as he fiddled with them. “I get to look after every galaxy, every planet, every star. And it’s all beautiful, and I love it. But…sometimes I just want to be a kid again. Be your kid again. You know?”
“You’ll always be our kid.”
That was, apparently, the wrong thing to say – because the instant he said it, Jack burst into tears.
Once upon a time, Dean would have been immediately put off by the crying. He would have silently declared himself incapable of dealing with anything in the realm of weeping, mumbled some awkward, inept platitude, and backed out of the room. He would have asked Sam or Cas to check on Jack and waited, feeling anxious and guilty, for them to report the results of their chick-flick moment. And he would have, the entire time, berated himself for it.
But Dean wasn’t incapable of working through messy emotions. He never really had been. He knew that now. He’d just been scared of them.
He wasn’t scared anymore.
“Hey, hey. Come here.” Dean wrapped an arm around Jack’s shoulders and pulled. The kid fell against him willingly, head pressed into his shoulder. “I’ve got you. You’re alright.”
“I can’t do this, Dean,” Jack whispered, trembling beneath his hands. “I can’t be God. I’m not strong enough.”
“Like hell you’re not.”
“You don’t understand.”
Dean tightened his grip. “Then help me understand.”
“It’s just…there’s so much. So much to see, so much to do, so much to take care of. And…”
“And I’m doing it all alone. I miss you guys.”
“You don’t have to miss us, kid. You don’t have to be alone all the time. You know that.”
“But I should be able to. It shouldn’t be this hard.”
Jack glanced up at him in confusion, eyes red and glistening. “What?”
“Who says you have to do everything alone and never feel lonely? Is there some kind of fancy God rulebook that I don’t know about?”
“I mean…no, but–“
“Then whose rule is it?”
There was a long pause as Jack pondered that.
“Mine, I guess,” the kid finally said.
“So? Break it.”
“What are you trying to say, Dean?”
“I’m saying that you can keep taking care of the whole damn universe…” He pulled Jack closer. “…and we’ll keep taking care of you. Because that’s what family does.”
Jack nodded and exhaled shakily against him. “So what do I do now?”
“You’re God. You can do whatever the hell you want.”
“I think…I think I want to stay in Heaven for a while. And see my mother again. Maybe Cas could come with me.”
Cas already visited Kelly’s cottage frequently, but Dean knew he’d never say no to spending time with either her or Jack. “Sounds like a plan.”
“Sorry.” Jack wiped the remnants of tears from his face, seeming much more composed, but still made no move to pull away. Dean had no complaints. “I guess I just got a little – overwhelmed.”
“Happens to the best of us.”
“Even to God?”
“You’re sitting here, aren’t you?”
That earned him the slightest of laughs. “Thank you, Dean. For everything.”
“I’m proud of you, kid. We all are. Don’t ever forget that.”
Nobody had to sleep here, least of all God himself. But just like Dean and Cas chose to do sometimes, Jack drifted off, head tucked beneath Dean’s chin. It was a comfort thing. Dean understood.
He also understood Jack’s loneliness. The weight of carrying every burden upon his shoulders, even ones that weren’t his to carry. The fear of what might happen if he allowed someone to help. The brokenness.
But they had all, in Dean’s own humble opinion, more than earned their Heavenly reprieves – and there was more than enough peace to go around.
They had eternity, after all.