She corners them in the Dillon's off Main. It's a Thursday, and they're buying steaks to celebrate John's first concussion in the name of hunting. Mary's arguing in favor of a porterhouse, but John, who can't seem to help but be money conscious, even when it's not his money, is trying to get her to just grab the sirloin that's on sale for half the price.
"Do you know how hard it is to find a porterhouse in a grocery store, John? Do you?" she asks. "It's like you're asking me to walk by a cute puppy without petting it."
"You shouldn't pet random dogs, either," he argues. "What if they have rabies, huh?"
"Are you trying to starve our unborn child?" Mary asks him with her most serious face on. She rubs the swell of her stomach. It's still not large, but it's sticking out enough to throw a small waddle into her walk. "Don't you want our baby to have good food, John?"
"He's not going to starve to death on a sirloin."
"What if the sirloin came from a cow with rabies?"
"Why don't we just get ham?" John asks.
"Why don't you two just come over to my place so I can stop chasing you all over hell and back?" asks a new voice from behind them. The owner of the voice is a short, heavy-set woman with dark skin and a glare that reminds John of his drill sergeant at basic.
"You've been chasing us?" Mary asks. That's not possible; she hasn't noticed anyone following her and John, and she isn't nearly as flighty and distracted as she looks.
"Christo," John blurts out. It's true that there's not really a smooth way to slip that into a conversation.
The woman glares at them, but doesn't flinch. He eyes don't blink black, there's no hissing, nothing. "Boy, do I look like I have time for your paranoia? My name is Missouri Mosley, I'm a psychic, and the two of you are five days late for your destiny, let's go."
Neither Mary nor John know exactly what to do. The woman clearly isn't a demon, but they don't have proof she's a psychic, or on their side at all. And they haven't found an angelic equivalent of Christo—short of bleeding themselves in the meat and dairy section.
John tilts his head. Mary raises an eyebrow. John purses his lips and shrugs his shoulder almost imperceptibly. Mary rolls her eyes.
"I swear," the woman—Missouri—starts again, exasperation showing on every inch of her body. "The skulls on you two are so thick they make the Great Wall of China look like a chain-link fence. If you two don't want Sam and Dean to end up right back here again begging to be unborn you will follow me." She turns around and walks right out of the store, not looking back to see if they're following.
"And I heard that," she announces.
They agree to go back to Missouri's house because she's not a demon and Mary's pretty sure if she were an angel she wouldn't've bothered to try and convince them to come with her before trying to kill them. They take their car though, and they both have their guns as well as knives—they memorized the sigil to banish angels pretty much the night of the big attack.
Missouri's house looks normal. Not just normal, but grandma normal, with the thick smell of potpourri and incense filling the house; huge, old-fashioned couches; and vases of flowers decorating tables. It's not exactly what they were expecting, and John is immediately on edge. His grandmother was a mean old lady who raised three mean sons, and John's already on the defensive before Missouri even comes back with tea.
She doesn't say anything to him when she sets his cup down, but the look she shoots him doesn't leave very much to the imagination. He doesn't drink the tea.
John also doesn't sleep for two and a half days after that.
He knows he can't actually feel the notches that trickster carved into his and Mary's bones, but he swears his insides itch.
"That might have more to do with the fact that we have angelic bounty hunters after us now," Mary says.
"You're. Not. Helping," he grinds out.
"I can hit you until you lose consciousness," she suggests.
John rolls over and burrows into Mary's embrace. She runs her hand through his hair, whispering to him. It calms him down until he finally falls asleep.
Nebraska is flat. Flat, flat, flat. John thought Kansas was bad, but he's pretty sure he can actually see his house from here. The thunderstorm they just came through was so bad that John pulled over, and they spent the night on the shoulder because he was half sure they were going to see a guy float by in an ark.
John's opinion of this trip is not improved when they finally hit Lincoln. Caleb turns out to be two people; Caleb, Sr., the one who procures the firearms and is never actually around because of said procuring, and Caleb, Jr., who sells them.
Caleb, Jr. looks like he could possibly pass for legal if he went a month or five without shaving.
"We're buying guns from a kid?" John asks Mary.
"They've got guns and knives and everything you might need to kill anything," she tells him, "and they will know what you use to kill a demon and will, likely, have it,"
"He looks like he just got his license yesterday," John points out.
"Trust me, John. By his age, I'd been driving for years."
"And yet, you still can't tell the carburetor from the transmission."
"Don't need to know how it works, just need to know that it does."
When they finally make it inside and downstairs to the armory, John's cooled off a little. He's still somewhat bothered by Caleb, Jr.—"Just call me Caleb; no one's called me 'junior' in years," —and how young he is, but he's starting to get that it doesn't necessarily mean the kid's inexperienced.
John observes quietly, aware that he's still out of his element and that, for all the training and pop quizzes and hunts he's been on lately, he's still the FNG here. The sheer amount of weapons in the bunker is fairly amazing, and the variety of them awes John a little. There's everything from handguns to rifles and shotguns, actual scythes and sickles, grenades, axes, and John is almost positive that that's an actual tank under the giant tarp in back.
John doesn't really want to think about how they might have gotten a tank down here. He's pretty sure the answer isn't "one piece at a time."
John tunes back into the conversation right after Mary asks what he has that can kill a demon.
"Well, we've got a bunch of exorcisms, but those don't really kill them. They just send them back downstairs to stew for a while." Caleb turns around and starts looking through some papers on the desk next to the elevator. The double peepholes in the door, combined with the elevator and meticulous cleanliness, tell John just why Caleb, Sr. is off buying guns instead of shooting them.
He wants to ask what happened—if it was on a hunt, if he was too slow, not strong enough, and a hundred other things. But he doesn't know this kid from Adam, and, more importantly, John isn't sure he wants to know the answer.
Caleb's still sifting through the papers, moving his discarded ones over the collection of knives to the right of the desk. "I heard there's some guy in California who's working on a holy shotgun—ah," he says, pulling out a large blue piece of paper. "Here it is."
There are two drawings on it: one that looks like a giant, ornate cross with an oversized revolver chamber on it, Top View labeled above it, and another that looks like a standard shotgun with a sight and a few extra bells and whistles on it.
"What the hell is that?" John can't help but ask.
"I know, it's gaudy as hell, and it doesn't exactly hide easy, but it looks like it would actually be pretty useful," Caleb says. "In theory, it should shoot holy water vials, blessed silver bullets etched with little devil's traps, and junk like that—but that's just supposed to speed up the exorcisms, not kill them for good."
"Is there any way to kill one for good?" Mary asks him. "Make sure it doesn't come back?"
"The only surefire, tested way to make sure a demon doesn't come back is to get one more powerful than it to take it out."
"Wait." John says. "You mean that to kill a demon, you should go find another one and ask it to kill your demon for you?"
"No, that would be stupid." Caleb sneers at him. "You summon the demon, bind it, and point it where you want it to kill."
After a minute or so of silence, John tells Mary, "I can't tell if he's being serious or not."
"It makes sense," Mary says, having clearly lost her mind.
"Demons aren't just mindlessly bloodthirsty," Mary explains. "They'd be easier to hunt if they were—so, theoretically, if you can make sure they can't possess you, you can point one towards its competition and let them go."
"Well, there's that, too," Caleb says. "But it doesn't happen as much nowadays—there are only about a dozen or so possessions worldwide every year. But back in the dark ages, we were crawling with them, so sometimes you had to chance getting a dozen people killed to save the whole village. That's why witchcraft used to be so popular—demons and plagues."
"So, to clarify," John starts, "the only way to get rid of a demon and make sure it doesn't come back is to summon one and hope that one doesn't kill you and is strong enough to beat the demon you want gone."
"That's not what I said," Caleb disagrees. "I said we don't have things that kill it. Pop heard about a guy in Colorado, though; word is, he's got a gun that can kill anything."
"The Colt?" Mary asks, and John can hear the capital letters in it. "But that's not real."
"It sure as hell is," Caleb argues.
"No, it's not," she tells him. "My Dad used to tell me all about the Colt as a bedtime story—gun made by Sam Colt under a comet, can kill absolutely anything, yeah, I know that story. And it's fake; no one's ever seen it. It's like the tooth fairy or Santa Claus."
"Hey." Caleb shrugs, clearly annoyed. "If you don't want to trust the weapons dealer about the existence of a weapon, fine by me. Not my funeral."
They head to Colorado.
Manning seems to be just as in the middle of nowhere as it can possibly be, and John can't help but worry about the cost of the gas it takes to drive all over the country—eighty-five cents a gallon in some places—and eating in diners and stopping in motels every night. John gets that Mary can sleep in a car, but just because she can doesn't mean she should, especially with a kid big enough to headbutt her in the lungs when he's mad.
The trip is a gigantic, colossal waste of time and money, and John almost feels like sending his receipts to Caleb for this damn goose chase.
"What do you mean you don't have it? How do you lose something like that?" Mary asks Daniel Elkins incredulously.
"Some punk stole it about a year or two back. He said he was going to leave it at some hunters' place down in Kansas, but when I got there, the place was covered with police. I can't do my job on death row."
And then it's road trip time.
John's starting to get a little sick of these road trips.
They go from Manning, Colorado straight to Albion, Oklahoma, and then to Oxford, Indiana, back to Colorado and some town John's pretty sure isn't big enough for a name, then up to Bellingham, Washington, and then all the way across the damn country to Hollywood, Florida before finally—thankfully, blissfully— being sent over to Blue Earth, Minnesota and someone who is actually some kind of help to them.
John loves Mary, but every day, he hopes the damn recession ends so he can find another job and have an excuse not to chase his tail to opposite sides of the country and back. He keeps finding himself thinking about driving into oncoming traffic just to break the sheer boredom of all that time staring and unchanging pavement.
The preacher in Blue Earth—pastor? father? rabbi? his flock is a giant town of hunters, and he seems to answer to just about anything—is apparently one of a handful of people on the Earth who may have spoken to an actual, real angel before. Either that, or he's some crazy guy like the lady in Tallahassee they wasted their time on last month.
"Yes," the high priest admits. "I spoke with an angel once. He was an archangel, actually: Raphael. He's apparently outgrown his fondness for humans."
"Yeah, that sounds like a real angel," Mary says.
"As opposed to all the fake angels running around out there lately?" the guy asks. John's not really used to men of the cloth having senses of humor—he was raised Catholic, and priests aren't well known for their knock-knock jokes.
"You would be amazed at the things we've seen the last few months," John tells him.
"We saw a guy in Iowa with detachable wings," Mary says.
"And a halo made of pipe cleaners," John adds.
"He smelled like cookies. I liked that one."
"I still think he was an incubus," John says.
"I don't care," Mary says. "He smelled like really good cookies."
"Well, I assure you, neither of the angels I spoke with smelled like cookies," Father Preacher assures them.
"Neither of the angels?" John asks. "I thought you only met one."
"No, I spoke with one once. I have spoken with another a number of times. I'm not sure that he counts entirely, though, as his lone purpose seems to be to act as the voice of God."
There's a silence that follows that, and John doesn't actually have any idea exactly how to respond.
"You have a direct line to God?" Mary finally asks.
"It's more like he has a direct line to me," he corrects her. "My calls seem to ring through as all circuits busy."
"You have a direct line to God," Mary repeats.
"Yes, I do. But only in a fashion," he amends. "He and his angel—the Metatron one, not Raphael—were much more pleasant than I had anticipated from previous experience."
"So theoretically, you might know how to kill an angel, then, right?" John asks.
There's another moment of silence, this time coming from the man. John has to remember to pay more attention during introductions. "Kill an angel?"
"Hypothetically," John says.
"You don't kill an angel," the man shouts at them. "What is wrong with you people?"
"They started it," Mary says. "They tried to kill us first. We're just trying to protect ourselves."
"People die," he says. It's shocking new information, and John thinks he sprains something in his brain trying not to roll his eyes like a petulant child. "They die, and if they are lucky enough, they get ushered to Heaven—"
"Not to break your bubble here," John cuts him off. "But she didn't mean we had a car accident and some guy in a black robe and a scythe came to us."
"An angel traveled back in time and physically tried to murder us," Mary tells him. "I was thrown into a car."
"It must not have been an angel," he insists.
"Pretty sure it was," John says.
"No," he dismisses John. "No, that was clearly an incorrect assessment of the events. It was something masquerading as an angel, I'm sure."
"Listen, guy," John starts.
"Jim," the guy interrupts.
"Okay," John says. "Listen, Jim, I had one of those things inside my head. It was an angel."
"This doesn't sound right. That's not what angels do."
"Yeah, well, that's what these angels did," Mary tells him.
"I must... I must confer," Jim tells them. He then turns around and walks back to his pulpit, turns, and walks away.
John and Mary just stand there for a moment, waiting for something.
"I have no idea what to do now," Mary admits after a moment.
An hour later, Mary and John are eating in a diner down the road. The diner looks normal from the outside, but the inside is a different story. All the drinks come in glasses with matching rosaries dangling out of them and have delicate little hand-detailing that matches the plates. There are incantations painted on the walls like beautiful, flowing designs in more languages than even Mary can understand, and she would bet her last dollar that every piece of silverware is actual silver.
The glass in the windows is double-paned with wards set between the panes, and the entire ceiling seems to be a devil's trap, stretching back to the kitchen, if the portion visible outside of it is anything to go by. Mary's not sure how she feels about all that safety in there; complacency is never safe, and demons aren't the only things that can kill.
Father Murphy is at their table suddenly, and he slides into the booth next to John. He looks shellshocked, and Mary nudges John's foot under the table, trying to get him to do or say something. John shoots her back a look, and Mary holds in a sigh because men are completely useless sometimes.
"How was—" She pauses because she has no idea what the hell he did for so long. "How did your conference go?"
He doesn't answer for a moment, just continues to sit there, staring vacantly at the table.
It gets awkward after about ten minutes, but the only thing more awkward would be attempting to break the silence. Thankfully, the father finally talks.
"It seems that God has placed angels in a time out," he says slowly.
"I'm sorry, what?" John asks.
They stay another two days; it seems like the right thing to do after completely destroying the worldview of a man of the cloth. It's not a particularly useful two days, though, because, really. God stopped talking to the angels. Where do you go from that?
Jim's not sure about angel sightings, either. He says God forbid the angels from coming down, but they've apparently realized that God can't punish them if He isn't talking to them.
"The sightings I have heard about," he tells them, "don't sound very much like what I've experienced. But, then again, yours doesn't sound like mine, either; so there's no real way of knowing. There have been a few more possessions lately, though—mostly here and over in England, but there have been four in Egypt in the last year alone, and none for nearly a hundred years before that."
"Any idea what that means?" Mary asks.
"I don't know." Jim shakes his head. "They don't seem to be any particular set of demons or have anything in common. Just run of the mill possessions: a schoolteacher in Montana, a waiter in Virginia, and a couple of housewives in South Dakota and Florida."
The possessions are interesting in a general way, but it doesn't sound like they relate to their demon, so they leave Jim their number and finally make their way back home.
When they finally make it back to Lawrence, John almost kisses the door, he's missed it so much.
He burns them grilled cheese with raw insides on his stove because he can, then takes a bath with Mary for no other reason than that he doesn't think they'll catch something from the tub. They don't fit as well as they did, and it takes John a few minutes to realize it's because they've been gone long enough for Mary to go from barely showing to not being able to get out of a chair without help.
He makes love to his wife in their bed in their house, and in the morning, he gets chocolate chip pancakes from the diner down the street and brings them to her in bed.
"We are never, ever, ever doing that again," he tells her between kisses. "From now on? At least one night home for every drive across the country."
Mary shoots twice, right bicep to drop his weapon and left thigh to drop him.
The guy—who is not a ghost, a witch, a demon, or anything else but an inhuman human being—falls like a sack of potatoes. He's screaming, like most people with bullet wounds do, and Mary gives him a nice kick to the head for good measure; not hard enough to break anything, but enough to knock him out.
There are still two girls missing, and only this guy knows where they are.
She knows she wasn't in any kind of real danger; just because she's a woman and is big enough that she needs John's help to get shoes on in the morning, it doesn't mean she's helpless. She just proved that; she just shot her would-be kidnapper and managed to get neither kidnapped nor hurt.
The adrenaline is rushing through her veins fast enough to make her jittery and a little nauseous. The nausea might be Dean, though—no one ever tells you that morning sickness isn't confined to morning or that it sometimes doesn't go away. Mary's sort of stuck now, though, because she has a bleeding and unconscious man in front of her, John isn't here, and she does not really need to be lifting that much dead weight around.
She waits at the sidewalk next to the alley she let herself be herded into and waits for John.
Half an hour later, it all goes to hell. The guy is in their backseat, and Mary and John have just found his truck—at least, they assume it's his. It's the only thing around that's big enough to hold a body, and, besides, his keys fit the lock.
"Son of a bitch," John says.
"What?" Mary asks, looking through the guy's stash of fake IDs.
"He's got a fucking devil's trap under the mat, Mary."
Mary leans over, or tries to. Her stomach gets in the way, and she ends up having to walk around. Sure enough, there's a devil's trap, carved in and painted over.
"Shit," she says.
"You shot a hunter."
"Good thing I didn't go for the head, huh?"
Thirteen of the twenty-eight IDs say the man's name is William, so they decide to go with that.
It takes William about an hour to wake up—she still thought he was a serial killer when she hit him with the sedative—and actually be coherent.
The first thing Mary does upon noticing him wake up is say, "I'm sorry I shot you, but you really shouldn't try to kidnap pregnant women. We're hunters, too, so I hope you'll understand the cut and ropes."
"You shot me," he says.
"You're pumped full of drugs," John points out. "You can't actually feel it."
"Bullets. Inside of me," William-the-still-unverified moans.
"Actually, bullets in our garbage can," Mary says. "You're lucky my aim is off; I only hit the meat instead of the joints."
"I can't believe you shot me," he moans again. "I just wanted you not to die. I was rescuing you."
"From my husband," she points out. "Who, might I add, is not a serial killer. He just needs a shave."
"I thought you liked a little bit of stubble," John says.
"It was stubble on Tuesday," Mary says. "Today, it's a beard. Really, I can't blame him for thinking you kill random women; you don't look like you could get a date if you paid for it."
"Hello," William calls out. "Bleeding person tied to a chair over here? Hi, how are you? Remember me?"
William is actually named Bill—which is apparently not short for William.
Hunters tend to have very odd senses of humor.
Bill, for instance, thought it would be funny not to tell John and Mary that his wife greets everyone at the door of their roadhouse—which seems to just be named The Roadhouse—with a shotgun if it's after closing.
Mary pulls her gun in return. Bill's wife, to her credit, doesn't waver, even when presented with Mary's very pregnant belly. Mary immediately respects her, even moreso when she refuses to let up until Bill's inside and safely behind her, giving her what must be some established code for okay.
Ellen drops the shotgun to her side and smiles, her entire demeanor shifting now that she's got her husband back safe. "Come on in; pregnant ladies drink free."
"In that case, she'll have a bottle of whiskey, and I'll have a Coke," John smiles his most charming smile.
Ellen levels him with a look. "I see why Bill thought you were a serial killer. You look like Charles Manson with that damn beard."
Dean Jonathan Winchester comes screaming into the world two and a half weeks before he's due.
They're about forty miles from anything resembling a town, leading a caravan of hunters away from a riot of ghosts that were haunting their old Civil War battlefield—yet another reason why grave robbing is bad—when Mary's water breaks in the front seat.
She doesn't panic; she's read the books and talked to doctors and other mothers, and she knows that it can take hours or sometimes even an entire day from the water breaking until the actual birth.
However, Dean seems to have a hot date he doesn't want to miss. Within three miles, she goes from feeling wet and cold and kind of gross to having stabbing pains from the inside out that barely stop at all.
One hour and twenty-two minutes of screaming later—most of which is done by John because, apparently, no hunter in their little freak parade has actually seen a woman give birth before, and they all keep trying to come over and get sneak peeks—their son is a pink, slimy, roly-poly thing wrapped up in John's favorite flannel and held close against his chest between John's undershirt and his thick leather jacket.
Mary wants to hold her baby, but it's snowing, and she's cold and tired, and her entire body hurts. She's pretty sure she broke something in her left hand from pounding it against the dashboard so hard. Ellen, who had been acting as a makeshift wall for Mary to push against while trying to get her first-born the hell out of her body, takes charge. Within minutes, everyone is back in their vehicles and speeding towards civilization.
Mary is curled around John up front, petting Dean as they huddle around the heater, and Ellen is driving at a relatively sedate pace with Life's Been Good turned low on the radio.
The biggest issue they end up having with telling Dean about Sam is explaining that Mary did not eat the new baby.
She's also not entirely sure that Dean understands the difference between a new baby brother and a new puppy, but she's going to wait until Sam is actually born to start worrying about making sure Dean doesn't try to teach him how to fetch.
Dean is pretty much the most adorable thing ever right now, though. He's taking his job as a big brother very seriously and is incredibly displeased that he has to wait so long for the new baby. Dean still doesn't really have any concept of time—yesterday was Christmas, and Dean's birthday was yesterday, and tomorrow it's the Fourth of July, and the baby is coming in April, and April is tomorrow—so John has a calendar down low on the wall. Every night before bed, Dean gets to cross off another day closer to the big red circle that is Sammy's due date.
It's part of a whole ritual that they have before bed. Mary and Dean have their own little thing that they do, but ever since Sammy decided to start laying in just the right spot to make her legs go numb, John has taken over the job of keeping Dean busy when he's home, which is fantastic. Mary loves Dean with every last fiber of her being, but if she has to chase a screaming, naked four-year-old down the street one more time, she's going to murder John for pissing in her family's pristine gene pool.
He's not a complete and utter terror, though. Part of his and John's ritual is goodnight kisses: one for Mary, and a big kiss to Mary's stomach that is sweet enough to counteract the big kick Sam always gives in return.
It's a very odd thing to know your children ahead of time. There are still mysteries, things like their favorite colors and movies, but there are things other parents sit and wonder about that they just know. They know Dean is going to grow up big and strong, a pretty boy who will break enough hearts that they've already started making sure he knows exactly how to treat a girl.
Mary knows that Sam is going to tower over them all. He's going to have her nose and his daddy's chin, and, if he's lucky, he's gonna get those big, gorgeous dimples of John's to go along with it.
They know that neither one of their boys smiled in the few short hours they saw them, and that both of them preferred the idea of never having been born over staying alive in the horrible situation they were in.
Sam's birth foretells his future as a stubborn little shit who will make everyone worry.
Mary is eleven days past her due date and fairly certain she's going to murder somebody very soon. Dean seems to be of a very like mind and is incredibly angry with her that she hasn't given him the baby brother he was promised. It would probably be adorable if not for the part where Sam has apparently been trained to kick wildly at the sound of Dean's very loud voice.
The hormones don't help, either.
She screamed at Dean last night, which is the equivalent of, well, screaming at Dean. There isn't really a comparison because it's worse than kicking a puppy. Dean watches everyone spar, so spankings don't actually do anything but make him giggle—which the teachers at the preschool don't appreciate—but if you raise your voice, he cowers like a dog who just pissed on the floor. Last night, she screamed for no reason, and she made him sob for trying to sing to her.
Today, Mary's apologizing by letting him play in the big metal kiddy pool John dragged in from the shed. She was playing with him in it earlier but gave up because of Sam; there's only so much kicking she can take before she runs the risk of internal bleeding, so she gave John his babysitting orders and decided to lie out for a while.
She wakes up to contractions and a full body burn because she already owned a bikini and didn't care who saw her big, pregnant belly. As soon as they get back from the hospital, she's going to murder John for not waking her up or putting a towel over her or anything.
They spend three and a half days in the hospital because Sam changes his mind about making his grand entrance to the damn world. Mary fights tooth and nail against a c-section—she doesn't know why, exactly, but something in her gut tells her not to let them cut her open, so she fights.
When Sam finally makes his appearance, there's no screaming. She's half-delirious with drugs and no sleep, but there's no screaming, and she remembers Dean screeching his tiny little lungs out.
Sam is so tiny and sick looking, and they don't even get to hold him for two days because he spends all of his time covered in tubes in the neo-natal ICU. Every possible moment of those two days is spent with the three of them as close to the little fake womb as possible.
Mary and John try not to be worried, try to tell themselves that they saw Sam from the future, and he was big and strong and healthy, but they're changing the future, and she doesn't know how much they're changing it.
Dean is mostly annoyed with Sam for being so tired all the time. They're both too chicken to say it out loud, that Sam is sick and not breathing right, so they just tell Dean that the baby is really, really tired and in a super special crib for special babies.
On the third day, they get to hold him. After Dean throws a tantrum louder and longer than any of the three he's ever had before, they—mostly Mary because she is just too damn stressed out to deal with a screaming toddler right now—decide that Dean can hold the baby, too, but only if there's an adult holding Dean, just in case the baby squirms.
Sam's second picture ever in the real world is him in his big brother's arms while they sit in Mary's lap. She can't keep the smile off of her face, even though she's so exhausted that she's barely upright. Dean is beaming down at his new baby brother like he's better than every Lego and crayon he owns, and Sam's got one little socked foot kicked loose of his blanket in response to Dean's loud whispering of all the things he's going to show him.
It's not until Sam's one week birthday that she realizes he was born on May second. It was technically still April when she went into labor, and then there was so much to worry about after that her brain didn't even consciously register it, but the second she does, her blood runs cold.
She will never forget that day, not ever, even for a second, and as soon as she realizes the date, everything falls into place. It all makes sense now—she knows there's no possible way that Sam just happened to be born ten years to the day after she made that deal.
They already knew it was a demon who was coming, and they knew the date, but now they know it's coming on Sam's six month birthday—there is no way that's just a random arbitrary date, either—and they know that the demon has yellow eyes and makes deals. They're still short a name for the demon, and Mary can't help but feel like she's in some really bastardized version of Rumplestiltskin.
Mary is calm, rational, and perfectly fine. She knows exactly how this all happened now, and that means they're one step closer to fixing it—to changing it. She's completely fine, and she tells John this as he kisses her and brushes something that is definitely not tears off of her face. She doesn't remember Dean coming in, but she knows he overreacted, and there was no reason to make John come home early from work because everything's okay; she only damned her children's lives without even a first thought, much less a second.
That's all. She's fine.
She just doesn't know what to do.
Missouri is back in town a few days later, having missed Sam's day of birth due to a last minute emergency that John still isn't entirely sure wasn't actually about Sam's birth.
She sweeps into the living room in that way she has: utterly natural and completely practiced, guaranteed to grab your attention just how she wants it. John looks up, as completely unimpressed by her grand entrances and sweeping gestures as he always is.
Dean doesn't seem to have noticed there's anyone else in the room. He's even more completely fascinated and focused on the baby than either Mary or John had anticipated. She really thought all the shine and sparkle would fade once the baby actually arrived, but, if anything, it's intensified.
Sammy's asleep in his car seat, content and noiseless. Dean's sitting next to him, staring and occasionally getting his hand lightly smacked away by John every time he leans in to poke at some part of Sam.
"Now that is something you don't see every day," Missouri says, stopped dead center in the middle of the room. "All that power in such a tiny little baby." She makes a tutting noise and shakes her head slightly. "And that brother of his? Even death won't keep them apart."
"What do you mean?" John asks; his voice low and dangerous.
"Boy, don't you take that tone with me," she tells him. "I raised three younger brothers and two cousins; I will not hesitate to put you over my knee."
"No, you don't get to talk about that," John starts, vague because Dean is a smart boy and doesn't need to know everything there is just yet. "About my boys, and expect me to just sit there."
"There are only two sure things in life, John, and you won't be able to stop them from learning about taxes, either. You two keep an eye on the little one; you'll know when to call me."
When November second finally rolls around, John and Mary are as prepared as they can be. It unnerves John a little to have his kids so close to danger, but they don't know what exactly the demon is after, and, in case the demon follows, they can't take the chance of sending Dean over to Mike and Katie's or Sam to Bill and Ellen's.
They all go to sleep early that night because John wants as clear of a head as he can get going into this thing, and he doesn't need to be muzzy from trying to stay up. They know a little more about the demon, but not enough; they still don't know its name or exactly what it wants, and that means they're already five steps behind the program, but that doesn't mean they're about to give up.
They're all stuffed together in one bed. Dean's laying on John's chest, arms and legs akimbo with his pink teddy bear, the one that used to be white until Dean decided the bear wanted to swim and tossed him into the washer, playing double-duty as both a pillow and drool absorber. Mary's curled around John's side, their hands clasped together over Sam's tiny little baby belly, feeling it rise and fall lightly with his breaths.
It isn't even eight by the time they're all asleep.
John wakes up to Mary's ear-piercing shriek of terror. There's a man-shaped thing standing over their bed. It's the demon, he knows it is, and it's bent down low enough that he can see the disgustingly yellow eyes and the sharp, evil smile spreading its face wide. "Hi, there, Johnny-boy," it says. "It's been a while."
Dean and Sammy are awake and screaming now, too, and John knows his part. So does Dean: he scrambles around and climbs on John's back, one hand clamped tight to his other wrist around John's neck, the teddy bear still tucked into the crook of his elbow. John scoops Sammy up into his arms and drops to the ground as Mary pulls out the gun.
There's the loud bang of the gun and then sulfur smell so thick that John gags on it, choking over the taste of matches in his mouth. Then heat, thick and scorching, and there's a crackling sound and Mary cursing. John's already got Dean off his back and pressed into the clean air of the floor before the fire fully registers with his brain.
He calls out Mary's name—he doesn't scream it because he doesn't need to, and she comes clamoring over the bed, tearing at the long line of her nightgown because she doesn't need something limiting her stride. Even in the middle of all this, there's a part of John's mind that's proud he knows that. Mary grabs Dean because it's easier to transfer over a toddler who's scared still than a baby who's scared and screaming.
Dean wraps around her like a baby monkey, arms and legs locked tight, face buried in her hair. John takes just enough time to make sure that they're okay and stable before he takes off for the stairs with Sammy swaddled tight in his blanket and gurgling happily now. All Sam knows is that he's moving and that's good.
John's three steps down the stairs when he hears a thump and Dean's wail. He's back up to the second floor landing before any kind of conscious thought kicks in. Dean's face is red from exertion, he's already got a pretty nice case of rug burn running down his forehead and across his left cheek, and Mary is nowhere in sight. John doesn't remember a giant wall of fire closing off the hallway before, though, so it's not a hard guess where she is.
He makes a split-second decision. He knows his boys will be okay—he knows it deep in his gut the same way he knew Mary was the one for him—but if they lose Mary, they're gonna be doomed to the life Dean tried so hard to prevent.
John pulls Dean to his feet and hands Sammy over to him. Dean doesn't need help holding the baby anymore; he already knows just where his arms go so Sammy's neck doesn't hurt
"Take your brother outside as fast as you can," John tells him urgently. "Don't look back!" Dean's still not moving, rooted to his spot with fear, and John can't have that, can't risk his boys like he's risking himself. "Now, Dean, go!"
Dean goes, and John only stays in place long enough to make sure that he isn't gonna see what John's about to do. He turns and runs through the wall of flames, hoping he's not too late, and stops short on the other side. It's completely black with smoke in a way the other side wasn't. He can't see anything, can barely breathe, and he drops to his knees for cleaner air that doesn't exist, crawling forward and calling to his wife.
Everything is listing to the left. John can tell it, even if he can't see anything but black and dark grey with bits of orange in the corners. The makeshift mask his t-shirt makes is almost completely useless right now, but even that tiny bit of help is necessary. He runs into a wall, the hallway wall, and he knows that's not a good sign. He's over-correcting and trying to move against the spin of the room that isn't actually spinning.
It means he's not getting enough clean air, and that's bad, but he can't give up, can't go back until he's got Mary and she's safe. John's using the wall to pull himself up unsteadily when he hears three rapid fire shots—pop, pop, pop.
It gives John his second wind, and he goes stumbling forward. The smoke is thinner there, in the nursery, and he can see Mary clutching that piece of shit gun. She's shaky and wobbling, and there's a dark red stain on her nightgown, dripping down from her stomach to her ragged, ripped hem.
It's the last thing he sees before everything goes black.