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SPN Fic: On The Treetop

Bela Talbot
Title: On the Treetop
Summary: Dean’s pregnant.  He needs his baby mama like he needs a hole in the head.  And Sam won’t stop treating him like an invalid made of glass.  His contract’s not up for two more months, but this already feels like Hell.  AU S3, pre-Dean/Bela.
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 6,300
Warning: Mpreg!!!
AO3: Also available here
A/N: This fic takes place in the same AU as Waiting Game and Silent Night, but it is the first chronologically, so it’s definitely not necessary to read anything else first!

This fic is dedicated to the wonderful snickfic.  I don’t even remember how long I have been promising her mpreg, but I am finally delivering!

Thank you to upupa_epops, who ran an Unfinished Business Fic Meme in July that inspired me to get back into this fic (which I started last February), to lynzie914, kwritten, snickfic, and upupa_epops for encouraging me to continue during said meme, and finally to brutti_ma_buoni for organizing the awesome comm letsgetitdone, the deadline for which was what finally made me, after ten months, get it done


His stomach hurt.  His beer was shitty and non-alcoholic.  And the computer was out of battery.  Unfortunately, only one of those things wasn’t the norm these days.

Dean dumped the laptop on the mattress and pushed up from the pillows slowly, bracing himself- figuratively as well as literally.  He didn’t feel any sudden urge to upchuck, though- not even a swell of nausea.  He’d never expected to have to be grateful for that on a regular basis.  Morning sickness his ass.  Morning, noon, and night, and all-the-worthless-hours-in-between sickness, more like.

He looked around the hotel room, pausing to aim a glare at the trashcan Sam had made sure to stick near the bed before he left, but didn’t see the charger on the table or kitchenette counter or anywhere else in plain sight.  When had they used it last…

Dammit.

It was probably still in Bela’s room from her and Sam’s research powwow earlier, when he was busy being useless and knocked up over the toilet.

He could hear the low hum of the TV in the adjoining room, so she was probably there.  He could yell and ask her to bring it to him, but he wasn’t an invalid, and his desire to not seem like one outweighed his desire to piss her off.

YetYou’re not an invalid yet.

They had no idea what condition he would be in by the end of his…by the time this thing was ready to come out.

If you’re even still al-

Dean launched himself from the bed, embracing the sudden churn in his gut.  At least puking didn’t spare brain cells for whispers in the back of his mind.

He made it to the door between their rooms without incident.  No doubt under the misguided impression that Bela would rush to his aid if she heard retching, Sam had left it slightly cracked, which was all the excuse he needed to give a perfunctory knock and push it open.

She was sitting on the couch, computer on her lap, BBC playing in the background, and the look she turned on him was as sour as he could have hoped.

“What have I said about knocking?”

Dean fought to keep a straight face.  She was so easy.  “I did knock.”

“And after that you wait to be invited in.  It’s not a difficult concept to master, even for someone who never finished high school.”

He felt his body go rigid; his ill-concealed smirk solidified as an all-too-obvious grimace.

Her eyes flicked down before she turned back to her computer and began tapping at the keyboard.  “What do you want?”

He tried to make his voice business-like; it came out like scraping gravel.  “Did Sam leave the-”

There it was, coiled on the floor on the far side of the coffee table.

Bela followed his gaze.  A beat later she shifted, but Dean was already walking around the table.  Fuck if he needed any favors from her.

He bent too quickly, though, and couldn’t stifle a grunt at the resulting twinge.  As he avoided her gaze on the (slower) way up, he caught sight of her laptop screen.

His insides burned, and it had nothing to do with his condition.

“Is that your idea of research?”

Too late, she minimized the window.  The glare she gave him was returned to full force.

“Yes, actually, it is.”

“Uh huh.  And what do horseshoes do?”

She didn’t bat an eye.  “If hung over a threshold, they’re said to bring luck to the dwelling.  The genuine charms are nothing to scoff at.  Unless you happen to know the location of another rabbit’s foot?”

He didn’t know whether she was hoping to distract his ego with that victory or start a different argument entirely, but either way he ignored her pointed look.

“And how are horseshoes going to help us find Lilith, break our contracts, and save our mutant baby?”

Her eyes flashed, nonchalance vanishing.  “I found Merida.”

“Yeah, and she gave us jackshit!”  He clenched his fist, still able to feel the bum “psychic’s” clammy fingers tracing his skin from earlier that day.  After spending an hour pretending to read their palms and charging a fortune for the privilege, the shocking message she’d conveyed from her spirit friends in the great beyond was that yes, a powerful force did indeed want their souls.  Never mind that they’d actually asked for the identity and location of the demon that held his contract.  Not that he’d ever admit it, but with her Ouija board, Bela was a better psychic.

And the old bag had made them hold hands.

Bela’s matching grimace was not a consolation.  “She was still a shot.  It’s your turn.”

“Polly!”  He frowned.  “No- Peggy?  The one in Illinois!”

“Pamela?”

He jerked a triumphant finger at her.  “Pamela!”

“She’s Bobby’s lead, not yours.  Doesn’t count.”  She pulled the site on horseshoes back up.

“‘Doesn’t count’?” he echoed.  He waited for her to say something- anything- else, but she just stared fixedly at the screen, his look of incredulity utterly wasted on her.

Which just left his default: He summoned as much derision as possible.

“You’re a piece of work.  Months away from Hell, and you’re looking to make a fast buck.”

“Some of us actually work for a living.”

He almost smiled.  “Is that what they call petty theft these days?  Earning a living?”  He knew the heists she pulled off were anything but petty, but the way she couldn’t keep her lip from curling in a silent, impotent little snarl was too good to pass up.

She finally deigned to look at him.  “One of us has to provide for our child.”

Dean flinched.

He couldn’t help it; his mind reeled, as though the blow had been physical.  He felt his nails digging into his palms and willed himself to stay still.  She was a monster but not one he could attack in the usual way.  He couldn’t use fists, and they’d holstered their guns- for now- and all he had were words, and maybe his tongue wasn’t as naturally barbed as hers, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t be just as vicious-

It came to him; he felt his taut muscles loosen.  “What, mom and dad didn’t leave enough for their grandkid?  Maybe you should have let them live a few more years.  You know, fatten the inheritance.”

Her jaw tightened.  She didn’t say anything, though, and after a moment began typing.  Dean found he wasn’t really surprised.  No matter how he needled her, she never took the bait about her parents, not since the blow-up weeks ago when he first guessed the truth and confronted her about it, after Bobby’s friend Rufus dug up her dirty little secrets.

He made a show of winding the laptop cord around his hand.  “S’thoughtful of you, but I think we have more important priorities than Junior’s college fund.”

He was halfway to the door when she said, “You still hunt when something crops up.  I’m not turning down loyal clients if it’s an easy job.”

He swung back to her automatically, even though he knew better, even though he had this argument memorized.  “That’s different!  When we hunt we’re helping-”

“Oh bullshit!”

Dean stared, startled enough to stay silent.  That was a little more aggressive than their normal song and dance.

Her cheeks were flushed with anger; ordinarily it would have made him smug.  “You get off on it!  Maybe I do the same!”

Maybe you get off on it?”  His yelp was embarrassingly high pitched, but he couldn’t help it.  He gestured at the now noticeable curve of his stomach.  “Maybe is not the word I would use!”

As though it were yesterday instead of almost four months ago (fifteen weeks; Sam said they counted in weeks now), he could still see the anticipation that had fucking sparkled in her eyes when she showed up at the motel, $10K and a bottle of champagne, their payment and bonus for “helping” her, in hand; feel the weight of her on his thighs when she straddled him without invitation, assuming possession of his lap the same way she took anything else she wanted; taste the champagne on her tongue the first time she kissed him.

“You were a more than willing participant,” she said coolly, despite her still blotchy features.

Also as though it were yesterday, he could feel her zipper in his sure grasp, the silk of her dress as he helped yank it off.  As Sam was only too eager to remind him, he was the one who’d sent Sam out so he’d be alone when she arrived.

Dean forced back the memories and sneered.  “Yeah, worst mistake of my life.”

This time, Bela flinched.

Satisfaction surged through him.

It only lasted a moment, though; then the bitterness returned.  “If you’re so eager to get back to your life of crime, feel free to leave.  We’ll take the Colt and handle Lilith ourselves.”

Now the curl of her lips was scornful, and he knew he’d lost whatever upper hand he’d briefly had.  If he’d even had it at all.  How could they ever really have the upper hand when thanks to her magic tricks, the Colt couldn’t be taken more than one hundred feet from her?  As she’d been only too happy to demonstrate, even if he and Sam managed to steal it back, the gun wouldn’t budge an inch further once it reached her spell’s range.

“If that’s all?” said Bela, with a pointed look at the laptop cord.

On his way out, he slammed the door so hard the nearby landscape rattled on the wall.  If Sam wanted it cracked, he could fucking deal with her.

Dean stopped short a few feet into the room, furious momentum bringing him only so far when he had nowhere to direct it.  His stomach felt knotted up with rage, and he was clutching the charger so hard his hand would probably bruise.

He should have just shot her in her apartment when he had the luck.  They’d still have the Colt, and they wouldn’t have a baby to deal with-

Oh, fuck, the tightness in his belly wasn’t just anger-

He reached the bathroom just in time.

Dean hunched over the toilet until the worst of the gagging had passed and then sank to his knees.  The tile was cold through his jeans, and hard, and far too familiar.  The ache in his throat was familiar, too, and worse than the one in his stomach now, and all he had to show for it was phlegm; he’d puked up lunch hours ago.  He stared into the bowl at his own bile.

If he’d just shot her, they wouldn’t be in this goddamn mess.

He closed the toilet lid, pulled the flush, and leaned his head against the seat, even though he could see Sam’s nose wrinkling in dismay (and now Bela’s in disdain, joy) at the germs he was undoubtedly touching.  Despite his proximity to the tank, the flush couldn’t drown out Bobby’s voice.

“I hate to say it, but with things the way they are, maybe…maybe you shouldn’t try to keep it."

Maybe Bobby was right; maybe getting rid of it was for the best.  Even if Hellhounds weren’t coming for him in two months, how was he supposed to carry a baby to term?  It wasn’t like he was going to magically grow a uterus.  (Oh God, please don’t let him grow a uterus.)  Except for the blob of…baby where there definitely should be no baby, his internal organs had looked perfectly normal- perfectly male- on the ultrasounds.  According to the doc, anyway; not like he could distinguish one blur on the screen from the next.

It would probably be better for his short-term health if his insides did mutate to accommodate his “miracle” child.  Maybe then he’d be able to keep down food like a normal person- or a normal pregnant person, anyway.  Maybe then he wouldn’t have to worry about what was going to happen when this thing was actually baby-sized: about his perfectly male internal organs failing due to what was basically a parasite, or his hips dislocating from pressure they were never meant to bear, or becoming incontinent because his bladder was constantly squashed-

“You can wear adult diapers, though.  Incontinence is the least of your worries.”

Alone, Dean let himself shudder.  He fell back slowly onto his butt, away from the toilet, and resisted the urge to curl into a ball and wrap his arms around his knees like a child.

It would probably just hurt.

“Miracle” was not the word he would use to describe this nightmare.  But of course the doc would think that; she and her partner were Bela’s clients, the ones who’d paid her an obscene amount of money to steal the fertility charm in the first place.

He should never have helped her in Salem.  When museum security approached and she pressed the small, nondescript amulet into his hand and promised him ten grand to keep it safe for a few hours, he should have thrown it back in her face and told the guards to throw away the key.  But another weekend in Atlantic City sounded like fun, and after he and Sam determined that the witches (Wiccans, whatever) they were hunting weren’t evil, it had sounded like even more fun to pay them to duplicate the charm and give her back a fake.  Just to fuck with her after the shit she’d put them through with the rabbit foot and the hand of glory.

He remembered the gloating, almost euphoric satisfaction he’d felt when he gave her the fake and took her money, all while wearing the real charm, enchanted to look like his own amulet, right in front of her face.

He should never have fucked with her.  Not figuratively, and definitely not literally.  The second they ran into her in the museum, they should have run the other way-

A choked sound worked its way out of him, a perversion of laughter.  Even if his time weren’t up, and even if he could carry it to term, what kind of life would the kid have with parents who couldn’t be in the same room for five minutes without going for each other throats?

Better if it never existed at all.  It wasn’t natural anyway.

And wasn’t that what he and Sam did, get rid of unnatural things?

The bathroom faded, and a sandy-haired boy with green eyes smiled shyly at him- Sam’s smile, with Sam’s dimples.

Dean squeezed his eyes shut, against the boy and against a sudden burning sensation.  Fresh nausea swirled in him, but he didn’t move toward the toilet.

When he was finally back on the bed, charger plugged in and laptop revived, he could only stare at the screen, fingers inert on the track-pad.  A page of Google search results that had already proved useless stared back at him.  He forced himself to click to page two and try the next site.

Crap.  Nothing but worthless, steaming crap.

He clicked from one site to the next, faster and faster until all he saw were the headings, vision blurring as the rage that puking had drained from him returned.

Fairy tales, and unrelated biblical references, and demons from other cultures that weren’t their kind of demons, and dozens upon dozens of sites devoted to the demon mythology of some supernatural TV show, and none of it was worth a goddamn rat’s ass.

There was no point in worrying about co-parenting or his body being able to handle a baby because he was never going to live long enough for this mutant to turn into a real kid.  Not unless they gave up the Colt for an extension, and that wasn’t happening.  Bobby was right, he should get rid of it.  At least then he could enjoy what little time he had left.

The plasticky click of the key card in the slot was so quiet that Dean barely registered it before the door opened and Sam walked in.  He was used to real keys that went in real locks, locks that sometimes needed forcing and doors that sometimes needed shoving-locks that announced an arrival- but Bela flatly refused to stay anywhere that wasn’t fancy enough to use shiny, electronic credit-like cards instead.

The reminder had him scowling, even though he didn’t care about Sam coming in without warning, and when Sam looked at him and noticed, Dean could see his brother’s expression turn from neutral to ever so slightly, calculatingly, upbeat.

Dean was really not in the mood for Sam’s bullshitty, glass-half-full optimism.

“Hey.  How are you feeling?”

“Like shit.”  It would just encourage him, but Dean was equally not in the mood to sugarcoat.

Sam’s lips tightened.  Not unlike Bela’s.

“Did you throw up again?”

“What do you think?”

A beat passed, and then Sam turned to put his shopping bags on the kitchenette counter.  His stiffness as he unpacked the groceries belied his seemingly calm silence, and Dean knew he was gathering his patience, deliberating what to say next.  Because heaven forbid he just snap back at Dean.  No, Sam had to treat him like he was made of fucking glass.

Sure enough, when Sam turned back to Dean, plastic take-out container in hand, his tone was as mild as could be as he said, “Do you want to wait on dinner, then?  I got grilled chicken and a salad.”

Dean stopped his lip curling, but barely.  Yeah, I’ll wait; I’ll wait while I get my own food that isn’t doctor-recommended.  But he was hungry after puking up everything else, and if he waited to eat it would be giving in to his stomach, and it wasn’t the food he’d choose, but Sam was- Sam was trying; he just had to keep telling himself that.

Every day until you die.

Dean forced a smile.  Or something other than a scowl, anyway.  “No.  I’ll eat.  Thanks.”

He made to get out of bed, but before his feet even touched the ground, Sam said, “I’ll get it!  You stay there!”

“I can get it myself-”

“You can eat in bed!  I’ll bring it to you-”

“Of course, I can eat in bed!  I can eat anywhere I fucking want.  And I can get it!”

“I don’t mind!”

“Sam-”

“Dean, I’m standing right here.  I’ve got it.  Just- stay.”

Because it wasn’t enough that he was a knocked up invalid, he was also a dog.

He did stay on the bed, but only because resisting the urge to scream at Sam took every ounce of energy he had.

As Sam arranged the bed tray he’d insisted on buying with all the smooth, practiced efficiency of an actual nurse, Dean counted to ten.  Several times.

Sam was just trying to be nice.  If Sam were sick, Dean would do the same thing.  Hell, he had done the same thing.  Maybe not with a fancy freaking bed tray, but he’d brought Sammy food in bed before and coddled him unnecessarily when he didn’t feel well.  Sam was just trying to return the favor.

The problem was, Dean wasn’t sick.  He was pregnant, and he was dying, and there was no getting better from that, no matter how much Sam coddled him.  It’d be better for his sanity if Sam would just let him live his last few months as normally as possible, instead of acting like if Sam only tried hard enough to do things by the book- all half dozen of the pregnancy books he’d bought- they’d have a surprise happy ending.

(But in his more bitter moments, he couldn’t keep from wondering if the opposite were true: if Sam knew it was hopeless, and that was why Sam cared so much in the first place; he couldn’t keep Dean, so he was going to make sure Dean’s mutant survived, even though they had no guarantee it would grow into a normal baby, even if that meant treating Dean like an invalid incubator for the short remainder of his life.)

He couldn’t even tell by this point if the curdled feeling in his stomach was due to the baby (parasite; it would never become a baby) or to Sam.  The price of not simply exploding at Sam when he got like this, of trying to humor his pampering with grace, was an ulcer-like feeling in his stomach that grew with every fresh insult, no matter how well intentioned (and the doomed Googling before Sam’s return certainly didn’t help matters).  Sometimes he could wait Sam out, and sometimes…well.  It was like that children’s game, the one with the blocks in the tower that you pulled out and restacked, seeing how much instability it could take before it came tumbling down; before he exploded.

(It was different from fighting with Bela, which was more like that Operation game; one wrong move was all it took for hell to break loose.

And why was he thinking of kids’ games?  That road led nowhere good.)

Bon appétit,” said Sam, and Dean focused to see him put down a glass of milk for the finishing touch.  Sam stepped back and surveyed his work, looking unduly pleased.  “And there’s pie afterward.  Pecan.”  He said it the way other people said voila.

Dean ignored him, staring in distaste at the tray.  Pie didn’t make up for the fact that he was eating rabbit food.  Even if it was an organic salad that Sam had personally put together from the salad bar and a juicy, perfectly grilled chicken breast that Sam had personally picked from the hot food section of a fancy, overpriced foodie store.

He’d rather have a burger from behind a counter.  But according to Sam’s books, he was supposed to avoid fried foods and fatty food and greasy foods- basically, 90% of his diet- because they could exacerbate morning sickness (which Dean didn’t think could be exacerbated at this point, but whenever he said as much, Sam got all supercilious about tempting fate).  So instead of burgers he got healthy grilled chicken.  And instead of egg McMuffins for breakfast, he got protein bars and grapefruit for its vitamin C.  Instead of soda and beer (“Empty calories!” was Sam’s new favorite catchphrase), he got milk for extra calcium or orange juice fortified with calcium (because if only he got enough calcium, his manly hipbones would definitely be able to accommodate a baby!).

No more deep-fried food.  No more alcohol.  Limited caffeine.  And to add insult to injury, Sam made him choke down fruits and vegetables.

Dean poked his fork at the salad.  It was spinach, not iceberg (he was unwillingly learning the differences between rabbit foods), because spinach had folic acid, and there were chickpeas and lima beans, too, also with folic acid, because apparently the foul tasting supplements Sam pestered him into taking every morning weren’t enough.

The chicken actually smelled good, but knowing that Bela had probably paid for it would automatically give it a bitter aftertaste; eating healthily was a lot more expensive than eating fast food, and she forked over cash whenever Sam even implied a purchase was for the parasite, no matter how furious Dean’s protests.

Another block for the tower…

He dropped the fork, letting it clatter on the tray.  “Do we have any soda?”  What he really wanted was beer (no, what he really wanted was something stronger), but he was sick of the non-alcoholic shit.

Sam’s mouth pursed.  It was only too easy to picture him tapping his foot, waiting for Dean to eat.  “No.”

“Fine.  I’ll get some.”  He lifted the tray off his lap and set it on the sheets next to him a little too hard; milk sloshed over the lip of the glass onto the tray.  He got out of the far side of the bed to avoid Sam’s reproving look.

“Where are you going?”

“There’s a soda machine in the hall.”

“Dean, you shouldn’t- fine, I’ll get it, okay?  Just tell me what you want.”

“Nope, I got it!  Thanks!”

Even having to skirt the bed, Sam caught up with him before he reached the door, damn his long legs.  He put out an arm, as though to ward Dean off, and when Dean tried to side step him, the Barnes & Noble bag on the counter next to the grocery bags caught his eye.

He stopped trying to get to the exit.  “You went book shopping, too?”

Sam followed his gaze, and the next second Dean had full access to the door.

“Maybe.  Kind of.  It was right next to the Whole Foods, so I just- stopped in.”

How the kid managed to pretend to be FBI agent at the drop of a hat, Dean had no idea.  He arched an eyebrow.  “What’d you buy?”

“Nothing.”  Now Sam was avoiding his gaze.  “Just- a book.”

Dean briefly considered trying to grab the bag, but Sam was holding it behind his back, and really, he didn’t need to deal with five-year-old grabby shit on top of everything else.

“Is it another baby manual?”  If so, he could understand Sam’s defensiveness; they did not need a repeat of the scene after Sam brought home What To Expect When You’re Expecting and suggested he read it aloud while Dean drove.

“No…”

Dean fought a glare.  “Then what is it?”

“It’s just-”  Sam blew out a loud breath and seemed to come to a decision.  His determined face, the face that made Dean swallow pills and eat green things, returned.  “Look, don’t freak out, but all the books say to read to your child, and I saw the bookstore, so I went in and got-”

Jenga.

“You what?”

“I got-”

“You are not reading to it!”

“Dean, calm down-”

“Don’t tell me to fucking calm down!”

“Dean, the baby-”

“It is not a baby!  It’s a parasite!”

Sam’s mouth opened, but nothing came out.  He stared at Dean, eyes huge.

“Is that how you…”  He fish-mouthed another moment and then swallowed visibly.  “If that’s how you feel, do you want to get rid of it?  We can.  If you want.  We can get rid of it.”

Something inside Dean squeezed.  His heartbeat thudded in his ears; his head pounded.  “I didn’t- I didn’t say that!  I…”

Sam was looking at him sadly, like Dean had any control over whether they could keep it, like he had a fucking choice in the matter-

“I don’t- you’re not fucking reading to it!  End of story!”

Sam ducked his head, his bangs falling into his eyes.  “Okay.  I just thought- I’m sorry.  I thought it would be fun.  A way to bond with the baby.”

Fuck Sam.  Fuck everything-

“Don’t worry about bonding with the baby!  If it survives, you’ll have plenty of time to read to it when I’m in Hell!”

A door swung open behind him.  “What the hell is going on in here?”

This was a joke.  Someone up there was laughing at his life because what the situation really needed right now was Bela.

“Nothing,” said Sam.

Dean didn’t turn around; he didn’t need to see her withering disbelief to know it was there.

“Sam, may I speak with you?  Alone?”

He waited for Sam to tell her to buzz off, that this was private.  Instead, Sam gave him a furtive look, muttered, “Sure,” and edged around Dean, book bag still clasped securely behind his bag.  Like they were on the same fucking side.

Dean listened to the door close behind him.  Blood roared in his ears; he felt numb.  All except his stomach, which ached.

The door opened and closed again, and this time Dean turned, expecting to see Sam, returned to his senses, remembering that he was on Dean’s side, not Bela’s-

But it was Bela barreling toward him, and now she held the Barnes & Noble bag-

“Sit,” she snapped, and jabbed a finger at the bed.

He actually barked a laugh, short and derisive.  “If you think I’m going to let you read to my stomach-”

“I won’t get to read to it when it’s out of your stomach,” she said coolly.  “In case you’ve forgotten.”

The roaring stopped, as suddenly and completely as though a soundproof wall had slammed down inside his head.  Dean stared at her and felt a terrible heaviness in his throat and behind his eyes.

“You’re not going to Hell,” he heard himself say.  “We’re gonna find a way out of it.  Both of us.”

“You don’t believe that.  Otherwise you wouldn’t have said that to Sam.”

She spoke dispassionately, her gaze clinical; he would have preferred her usual condescension; even pity.

“That was just…I was just running my mouth.  I do that.”  He tried to shrug, tried to grin, his lazy, careless, devil-may-care grin that he gave to girls who weren’t Bela, even though he didn’t know why he should be trying to comfort her.  “Course I believe it.”

Her expression didn’t change.  “Yes, well, on the slight chance that you’re wrong and I never get the opportunity to read to my child…”

She went to the bed and sat.  And when she looked at him, he couldn’t think of a damn thing to say.

So he walked around to his side of the bed and slowly settled himself against the pillows again, and when Bela eyed the tray, he moved it back onto his lap, carefully, so the milk didn’t spill.

She waited until he was still and then pulled out the book, a bright orange one-

Dean’s heart skipped a beat.

Bela flipped it over so the cover was visible.  She studied it, and Dean fought an entirely different sort of nausea.

Bela cleared her throat.  “Green Eggs and Ham.  By Dr. Seuss.”  She paused, looked at his stomach like it might give her some sort of ‘ready’ signal, and then flipped to the first page.  “I am Sam.  I am Sam.  Sam I am.  That Sam-I-am that Sam-I-am!  I do not like that Sam-I-am.  Do you like green eggs and ham?  I do not like them, Sam-I-am.  I do not like green eggs and ham.  Would you like them here or-

“Stop!”

Bela started; she looked up at him.

His voice came out rough and scratchy.  “You suck at this.”

And she did actually, she read it as a rapid-fire monologue, like getting to the end was what mattered instead of the words in between, and she turned pages with abandon, like there weren’t pictures worth looking at; she’d obviously never read to a kid in her life.

But that wasn’t the point.

Her face darkened.  “I do not, and we are reading this book, whether you like it or-”

“Sam!”

She twitched at his bellow but didn’t say anything else as the door flew open.

“What?  What’s wrong?”

Dean pointed at Bela.  “She sucks.  You need to read.”

Sam stared at him.

Dean swallowed.  “If- if you want.”

After another beat Sam’s eyes slid to Bela.  She threw up her free hand in what Dean had come to recognize as her “I can’t fucking deal with him anymore” gesture and then threw the book down, barely missing the laptop.

Sam sat on the edge of the bed almost gingerly, like he expected Dean to change his mind any second and throw him out; the apprehensive look on his face as he picked up the book made Dean want to stab something; preferably himself.

Sam flipped through the first few pages.  “Where were you?”

“Can you…can you start from the beginning?”

Sam turned to the front, and his shoulders straightened.  “Green Eggs and Ham.  By Dr. Seuss.  ‘I am Sam…’”

Unlike Bela, Sam understood the difference between reading to an audience and simply rattling words off a page, even though as far as Dean knew, he’d never read to kids either.  He spoke slowly, for meaning instead of efficiency, and changed his voice slightly for the different characters.  It wasn’t like the last time Dean had heard it, when each sentence was halting and measured, but when he closed his eyes he still felt twenty years younger.

“…I do not like them with a mouse.  I do not like them here or there.  I do not like them ANYWHERE!”

An odd sensation rippled through his stomach.  It was almost like it…fluttered.

I do not like green eggs and ham!

Something in Dean’s stomach fluttered.

“Stop!” he cried again, this time with a gasp.

Sam broke off and stared at him, forgetting to disguise his hurt.  “What’s-”

“Not you,” said Dean quickly.  “I mean, yes, you, stop, but not- I felt something!”

“You what?”

It was a toss-up who was more shocked, Sam or Bela, but the next second both of them were scrambling closer, reaching to move the tray out of the way.  Sam’s large, warm hand closed over Dean’s stomach, but Bela’s stopped short a few inches above, fingers quivering slightly.

He looked at her.  “Go on.”

She laid her hand down next to Sam’s, delicately, like she wasn’t sure it belonged.

Dean held his breath, willing the flutter to come back.

“I don’t feel anything,” she whispered.

From the disappointed look on Sam’s face, he didn’t either.

“Are you sure you didn’t imagine it?” she said.

“I didn’t-”  Dean forced himself to take a breath, to not snap.  “I’m sure.”

Bela looked at Sam.  “Keep reading.”

Awkwardly, using only one hand, Sam thumbed to their place and cleared his throat.  “I do not like them, Sam-I-am.  You do not like them.  SO you say.  Try them!  Try them!  And you-”

“There!” said Dean.

It was just a little feeling, like something was trying to tickle him from the inside.  If he were Bela he would have been skeptical, too; but this feeling didn’t hurt, and everything else did-

He felt his lips tremble.

“I can’t feel it,” said Bela, sounding uncharacteristically forlorn.

“Me neither.”

Dean put his hand on his stomach, his fingers overlapping with both of theirs.  “I can’t feel it from here.  But there’s definitely something.”

“I read that sometimes you can feel the baby move as early as sixteen weeks,” said Sam.  “You’re only at fifteen, but since you don’t have…you know…”

“The right plumbing?” said Dean drily.

Sam smiled, just a little.  “Yeah.  So maybe you’ll feel it more.”

“When will be able to feel it?” said Bela.

“Uh…between 20 and 30 weeks, I think.”

Bela’s face fell.  Dean felt a twinge that had nothing to do with his stomach; he didn’t know the exact relevant dates off the top of his head, but he knew that her contract was up before week 30.

“Keep reading?” he asked quickly.

Sam did, voice growing stronger with every word, smile growing, too, until finally-

I do so like green eggs and ham!  Thank you!  Thank you, Sam-I-am.”

They sat in silence for a minute.  All their hands still clasped Dean’s stomach, fingers tight and eager and hot through his shirt, hut he didn’t mind.

“It’s still going,” he finally said, since they couldn’t tell.

“It liked it.”  For the first time since they’d met, Bela actually sounded awed.  She looked at Sam.  “Do you read to children a lot?  In between killing monsters?”

His head ducked, and he smiled at her from beneath his bangs.  “No.  But I learned from the best.”

Dean’s throat tightened.  He looked down at all their hands.

“Why did you choose this one?”

There was a slight pause, and then Sam cleared his throat again.  “Uh…it’s the one I learned to read with.  Dean taught me.  I didn’t want to learn ‘cause I liked Dean reading to me, so he got this one ‘cause it had my name in it.  That was how he got me to read.”

Dean felt Bela looking at him.  “Oh.  That’s really…”

She didn’t finish, but his eyes itched anyway, and his throat felt hot.  He fiddled with the napkin on the tray, like he’d ever actually wipe his eyes in front of them.  He hadn’t noticed before how red the tomatoes in the salad were.  Sam had probably spent ages picking through the salad bar for the reddest, ripest looking ones.

The baby fluttered inside him.

“Dean?”

Sam.  Sammy wanted him.

“Y-yeah?”

“What kind of soda do you want?  I’ll go get it.”

“No,” said Dean.  “I shouldn’t.  Empty calories, right?”

“Yeah, you should,” said Sam quickly.  “You want one.  It won’t hurt.”

Dean hesitated.  “Okay…how about a decaf one, then?  Whatever they have.”

He thought he felt Sam smile, which was why he finally looked up.

It was just a little one, again, but it was there, shy and pleased.

“Coming right up!”  Sam practically bounced off the bed, only to pause and look back at Dean.  “You know when I said that thing about bonding with the baby, I meant both of us.”

“I know.  I- Sammy, I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing to be sorry about!”

“No, I mean it, I- thanks.  For the book.  It was really- I’m sorry ‘bout before.”

Sam shrugged, his dimples starting to show.  “Don’t worry about it.  Hormones, right?”

Dean smiled weakly back.  “Right.”

Sam started to turn but then stopped again.  He looked intently at Dean, his smile gone.  “It’s going to be okay.  You know that, right?  We’re going to figure it out.”

A lump rose in his throat, too fast and too much-

His kid; focus on his kid.

He focused, even though he couldn’t feel the flutters anymore, and nodded until he could make his throat un-stick.  “I know.”

Sam grinned at him then, a bona fide grin.  “’Kay.  Be right back.”  He hurried out of the room into the hall.

They stared after him for a moment, both silent, and then Bela looked at him.  She drew her hand back from his stomach.  “He’ll be a good father.”

“Yeah,” said Dean.  “He will be.”

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
snickfic
Dec. 10th, 2013 03:47 pm (UTC)
EEEEEE FIC. EEEEEEEE YOU WROTE ME MPREG.

Better comment later; first I must BASK. :DDDDDDD
snickfic
Dec. 18th, 2013 02:09 am (UTC)
This just made me so very happy. Is it wrong that I enjoyed all Dean's physical ailments? Poor Dean. And yet he's so clearly hung up on bringing this kid into the world, even though he won't have time to enjoy it. Likewise Bela, who's way more invested in her progeny than I'd have expected. I felt a little sorry for her, not knowing how to read to children - because no one read to her when she was little, I have to assume? /cries

And the bit where Bela asks why Sam picked that book, and he explained! Aw. People finding out about each other despite themselves. <3 And then Dean felt the baby, and there was tummy-touching, which I have such a weakness for.

Everything's all so hurty and broken, and yet there are still these moments of grace mixed in with it all. This is lovely. Thank you so much. <3 <3 <3 (And ugh, I am so sorry it took me so long to write this. I am terrible.)
gryfndor_godess
Dec. 23rd, 2013 11:51 pm (UTC)
Is it wrong that I enjoyed all Dean's physical ailments?

FWIW, I took perverse pleasure in making the pregnancy extremely difficult and painful. *g* I think it would be, mpreg, and I didn't want to romanticize it by making it rainbow and butterflies. I'm sure I didn't even make it painful enough.

there was tummy-touching, which I have such a weakness for.

:DDD I have a weakness for that, too; I definitely need to rein myself in with this kind of trope so that it doesn't become too sappy.

I'm sorry it took me so long to write you actualfax mpreg, and I'm so very, very glad it made you happy! ♥
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )