April ended, May passed, and one day in June Dean looked out the window of the Impala and realized it was a gorgeous summer. The fields he was driving past shouted with grain, the gardens of the houses he visited rioted with flowers, the sky was so deeply blue it burned his eyes. The world was aggressive with joy.
Dean felt like he’d been uninvited to a party. He felt homesick for something he couldn’t explain — he’d never really had a home to be sick over — but there was a longing deep inside that he couldn’t kill with food or booze or music or the pretty blond waitress from Moe’s Diner.
He went back to Bobby’s, not knowing what else to do with himself. “I miss Sam,” he told Bobby frankly over the Impala’s engine as Bobby hunted for the rattle Dean had left so he’d have an excuse to see him. “I miss Castiel. I feel like I’ve been cut off from the world by saving it, you know?”
Bobby worked his wrench, frowning. “Kind of what happens in stories,” he said. “You need to read your Joseph Campbell again.”
“This isn’t a story. It’s my life and it sucks.”
“Well, what do you want, boy? A parade?” He put down his wrench and leaned on the car. “You did a great thing, and people will know about it over time. You know that. But it’s not the kind of thing they throw ticker tape parades over and not something you should expect to be rewarded for.”
“Why not?” Dean said, stung.
“Because nobody ever did the right thing for the sake of a reward and meant it. You do the right thing because it’s the right thing. Period. If you get rewarded for it, great, but that’s just consequences. But expecting a reward for it –” Bobby shook his head. “Look around you. Look at this weather. Look at the news. That’s your reward. A little goddamn peace before it all starts up again.”
Dean lowered his head, wishing he could explain better, and gave Bobby back his wrench so he could close the hood.
Bobby’s project this month was building more bookcases, so they were covered in sawdust and sweat and Dean has a bruise on his thumb when there was a knock on Bobby’s door. “Got it,” Dean said to Bobby, glad to put down the hammer. He went to the door and opened it, and was enveloped at once in Sam’s long arms.
“Dean,” Sam said happily.
“Sammy,” Dean said, just as happily, and stepped aside so Bobby could hug him, too.
“How are you, son?” Bobby said, looking at him closely, and Sam ducked his head.
“I’m pretty okay, I think. I’m better.”
“Good. I could use another pair of hands to help out.” He slapped Sam’s back and Sam looked at Dean, who just grinned.
“Your turn. I can tune an engine but can’t build a bookcase.” He slapped his hammer into Sam’s hand.
“Welcome home, Sam,” Sam said, and took off his backpack.
He told them about how he’d spent the last few months over dinner — he’d spent every day at the mission, teaching literacy for adults and helping with a lot of the physical labor. The staff had hated to see him go but understood about wanting to be near his family. “And I’m kind of thinking, if I can figure out how, I’d like to go back to school. I think I’d be a better teacher than I would a lawyer.”
“The money will be hard to come by,” Dean said.
“Yeah. Plus, you know, the felonies. I haven’t worked out all the details yet. Maybe more volunteering for a while. I like it. Makes me feel . . .” He shrugged and helped himself to more mashed potatoes. “Like I’m doing something.”
“There’s always hunting,” Dean said. “That’s doing something.”
“There’s not much of that lately,” Bobby said. “Hell’s giving us a breather, it feels like.”
After supper Dean went for a walk to stretch his legs, and Sam caught up with him. They walked in silence for a while, and Sam said, “No sign of Castiel?”
“None. I guess the angels are gone from the Earth again.” He sighed, hands in his back pockets. “Look, Sam, I know it’s kind of weird –”
“Hey,” Sam said, “it’s okay. You love who you love, you know?”
“Yeah,” Dean said. “But it still sucks.”
Sam chuckled dryly. “I know.”
Dean read the papers and the internet every day for weird deaths but found nothing that sounded like a job. Sam started volunteering in Sioux Falls and came back to Bobby’s every night tired but satisfied. Dean wondered if he should do something like that too, though he couldn’t think of a usable skill they’d let him teach at the local shelter or YMCA.
The morning of Midsummer’s Day, Dean was in the shower when Sam knocked on the door and said, “Dean, somebody’s here for you.”