Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. No copyright infringement is intended and I make no profit from this story. Kripke owns the Winchesters and Whedon owns Illyria.Go Gently
Two young women walked by, giggling softly and casting appreciative glances at the rugged black-haired man assisting the frail older gentleman beside him. “How sweet!” the blonde one whispered loudly. “It’s not often you see a guy taking care of his grandpa like that.”
With coy smiles and a tiny wave, the women disappeared around the curve of the park path, the flirtatious swing in their hips even catching Sam’s eye. He laughed wheezily, his gnarled hand gripping his cane more firmly as he watched them walk away. “I just can’t take you anywhere, can I, Dad?”
“Now you know where you get your good looks,” John admonished with a chuckle, his eyes a little dimmer after the undeniable reminder that his beautiful baby boy was now an old man.
“You seem to look younger every time I see you,” Sam said, sinking down on a park bench with a winded sigh. John glanced back at Fred trailing discreetly behind them, tilting his head curtly toward the small playground nearby so that he and Sam might have a little privacy. Fred shrugged, gracefully slipping over the sand to the abandoned swings and plopping down on one of the curved rubber panels.
“It’s been more than a year since…Dean,” Sam began, trailing off when he said his brother’s name. He closed his eyes, the wind blowing his thin gray hair into disarray before he took a deep breath and exhaled sharply.
“You’ve barely been civil to Illyria when I see you.” Sam reached out a palsied hand and clumsily patted his father’s knee. “What’s wrong?”
,” John replied, his expression shuttering closed into a blankness Sam recognized from his youth, locking the sudden images of llyria’s naked body behind cold eyes.
“Bullshit,” Sam said, smiling as he observed Fred spinning on the swing, her brown curls nearly touching the sand as she tilted her body back to watch the chain tangling overhead. “Illyria is a nice lady, Dad.”
“Illyria isn’t a lady
at all,” John spat, his cheeks flushed with an inexplicable fury as he got to his feet in a sudden burst of motion. “She isn’t even human
, Sam.” A look of disgust swept over John’s face and was gone in the blink of an eye – who it might be directed at remained unclear, even to John.
“She was always a lady to Dean and me.” Sam flicked his eyes towards the shadow of his father, backlit by the setting sun.
“Mom wouldn’t care,” Sam suggested softly. “She’d want you to be happy.”
John deflated, his eyes sliding closed as he sank onto the bench beside Sam, the feel of Illyria’s skin under his hands and around his cock almost palpable, even after nearly a year. John ground his teeth, his jaw tightening as he dug his nails into his palms to drive away the memory. No matter what he did or how much he fought it, they kept coming back at the most unexpected moments – when he wasn’t prepared and didn’t even want to fight them, sometimes – always enticing and indecently persuasive, irrefutably proving his failure.
Sam continued with brutal honesty, “Don’t take it out on Illyria after I’m gone. It’s not her fault. She’s your second chance. Hell, Dad, she might be your 112th. Who knows by now?”
Sam laughed throatily, coughing after only a moment. “You’ve died more times than Dean ever managed.” His voice quavered before adding in a lighter tone, “He even sent your name in to the Guinness Book of World Records
– did I ever tell you that? – but they politely declined due to lack of evidence. He kept the letter in his desk for years
A smile broke over Sam’s wrinkled face, bringing a subdued pang to John’s chest when he saw the glimmer of the young man Sam once had been flash in his eyes.
Sam patted John’s knee again. “Take it from an old man,” he joked with a tired sigh. “She’s good for you. Don’t fuck it up.”
Sam leaned back against the bench, closing his rheumy eyes as he tilted his face up to the fading sun. A moment later, he cocked his head to the side, listening raptly. “You hear that?”
“Hear what?” John asked numbly, his hands clenched tightly in his pockets.
“Sounds like Dean,” Sam said, a confused look crossing his face before it faded almost as soon as it had come. “Are we late? I told him we’d be back at the motel before dark. You know how he worries when we go hunting without him.”
John leaned forward, cupping Sam’s head in his hand while pressing his lips to his son’s forehead, unshed tears making John’s eyes shine. “No, Sam,” John replied, his throat constricting. “We’re not late. Let’s go home.”
Sam slowly got up from the bench, joints cracking as he shuffled down the path with his father, Fred trailing like a ghost behind them. “Dean told me he’d be waiting for me,” Sam informed his father with child-like excitement. “We’re going somewhere tonight.”
“I’m sure he is,” John agreed with a sad, understanding smile, holding onto Sam’s arm and pausing to tentatively reach out a hand to Fred.
Fred stopped, tilting her head to the side with a curious look before hesitantly stepping forward to grasp his hand. John’s grip tightened around her hand and the three figures made their slow way down the path, the blackness growing behind them as the sun set, their shadows melting into the dark.Author's Note: Thanks to my beta hakirby, who bravely beta-ed even though she has her own stories bursting out of her brain.