The Ten Marriage Proposals of Dean Winchester (Including Two That Took)

One

John was in the kitchen, making sandwiches for lunch while Mary was working on cleaning up the old crib for the nursery. As he spread peanut butter, he heard Dean come in. Glancing over, he saw Dean drag a chair up, then he climbed up and stood beside him.

"You come to help?" John asked.

Dean nodded. "Mommy said I should help you, instead."

John smiled, knowing just how helpful Dean was likely to have been. He'd been after his mother all morning to let him paint the baby's crib -- one look from Mary and John had spent the morning playing catch with Dean outside. Every time they'd had to stop, though -- something to drink or go use the bathroom or some other, mysterious four-year-old reason -- Dean had gone in to check on the crib's progress and told Mary again that he was going to help paint.

"Do you want to help put the sandwiches together?" He knew better than to let Dean hold the knife -- usually that led to everything being coated in peanut butter. Everything except the bread, of course.

But Dean shook his head. "I'm going to marry Mommy," he said, his attention on the sandwiches.

John paused, blinked once, then looked down at his son. "Oh?"

Dean nodded, seriously, still looking at the sandwiches. "When I grow up," he clarified. "I'm going to marry her. And she's going to marry me."

"I see." John managed to finish spreading jelly on one of the sandwiches without laughing. "That sounds like it'd be a good idea," he said, once he could speak calmly. "There's only one problem with that plan."

Dean finally looked up at him, eyes wide at the astonishing notion of a problem with his plan. "What?"

"Well, Mommy's already married to me."

Dean frowned, and thought about that. He thought about it as John handed him a sandwich -- cut into four pieces with the crusts removed, and the jelly on the top and not the bottom. John had learned the hard way he couldn't just flip the sandwich over while Dean was looking.

After he got Dean settled at the table with a glass of milk, Dean ate two of his sandwich quarters before he looked up at John. His face was composed into such an air of serious concern that John had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling.

"Mommy can't marry both of us," Dean finally said.

"True." John sat down at the table with his own sandwich, hoping Mary came in, in time to hear any of this. "So what do you think we should do?"

"You'll have to find someone else," Dean told him, and he ate the rest of his sandwich before running back to the nursery. They ended up letting Dean put his handprint on the baby's crib in green paint, and that night John explained to Mary about her new marriage.

She agreed that John would have to wait until after he'd finished moving the furniture.

Two

Dean threw himself onto the couch as soon as he and Sammy got home from school. Dad wasn't home yet, probably wouldn't be home for a couple more days. At the age of ten Dean had spent enough time looking after Sammy alone that the thought didn't really bother him; it might have been nice this once, though. He needed some advice and he would have liked to ask his dad for help.

On the other hand, maybe it was better this way. Dean watched Sammy drop his backpack on the floor and go screaming into their bedroom, looking for whatever toy he'd been dragged away from that morning. Literally -- the current game involved two action figures and saving the universe from inhuman scum, usually at the top of Sammy's lungs.

"DEAN! Come be Doctor Disastor!!"

"Later!" Dean shouted back from the couch. Normally Dean didn't mind playing with him, but right now... he had something very serious to figure out.

He'd been thinking about it all afternoon, ever since recess -- ever since right at the tail end of recess when Debbie Firth had told him what he'd done. She'd grinned at him and normally that was all right, but this time he'd just felt sick to his stomach.

He hadn't even meant anything by what he'd said, and he certainly hadn't used any words like 'marry me.' But she said that in the state of Minnesota, what he'd said was just as legal and binding and....

Dean was stuck. Fifth grade and he was married.

He closed his eyes and decided that maybe it was better that Dad wasn't home, because there was no way he'd be happy about this.

What would happen when they moved? She'd have to go with them -- when should Dean tell her about the ghosts, and demons, and hunting? Would she be scared? Would she learn how to shoot a handgun, or would Dad say that sort of thing wasn't for girls?

"DEAN!" Sammy yelled, then a half-second later Dean opened his eyes as his brother landed on top of him, knees and elbows going everywhere.

"What the heck are you doing?" Dean shoved Sammy away, though Sammy didn't seem very dissuaded. He was holding Doctor Disastor in one hand and Captain Marvelous in the other.

"Come battle evil with me, Dean!"

"I told you, later." Dean scowled at him. Much as he sometimes liked his little brother, there were times when he could be annoying.

Dean sat up. Sammy was pretty annoying. His nose was snotty half the time and he didn't know how to shut up about stupid stuff no one cared about, and he was always tagging along after Dean, wanting to be in on anything Dean was doing.

Debbie would hate it. She might like being his wife, but Dean was pretty sure that no fifth grader wanted to be a mom.

Dean grinned. "OK, OK, I'll play with you. But tomorrow...you gotta do me a favor."

Sammy just nodded and thrust the action figure at him, and for the rest of the afternoon Doctor Disastor had one evil plan after another foiled by the mighty brains and brawn and Latin chants of Captain Marvelous.

The next day Dean brought Sammy home after school and threw himself on the couch. The word 'backfired' didn't even begin to cover what had happened. Debbie had squealed when Dean had explained how he had to take care of Sammy and adopted him on the spot. She'd called him adorable and cute and funny, and Sammy had taken the candy she'd offered like a horrible, no-good traitor.

Dean sighed, and wished Dad would come home. It looked like Dean had a family, now, which meant he was going to need a job.

Three

Dean was sixteen to the day when Dad dropped the keys in his hand. He hardly even looked at his Dad, wanting so badly to get behind the wheel. He'd driven her before, had ridden in her nearly every day of his life, but this....

He slipped the key into the ignition and turned her on, and for a moment he just listened to her engine growl. He brushed his hand along the dashboard.

She was his, now.

"You and me, baby," he whispered, and he slipped her into gear.

Four

When they finally stopped at a cafe for dinner, Dean was so hungry he would have happily eaten the table, chairs, and possibly the customers sitting at the next booth. Dad just glared at him before Dean could even open his mouth to say a word.

Was it his fault he was hungry all the time? Dad said it was just being seventeen, perfectly normal, but that didn't seem to get Dean the extra pizzas he asked for, or the third bowl of ice cream, or even the leftovers from Sammy's plate because the bitch always finished his meal no matter how much Dean knew he didn't like bread that had gotten soggy in the gravy.

Dean slouched into the chair, barely glancing at the menu the waitress handed over. As she began listing the specials, he just nodded. "I'll have that, please," he said as politely as he could, giving her his best smile.

Sammy kicked him under the table, and when the waitress left, Sammy made kissy faces. Dean reached over and hit him, hard, on the side of the head.

"Boys," Dad said, sounding tired. He didn't look up from his newspaper, so Dean hit Sammy again as his brother stuck his tongue out.

"I'm fu-- hungry," Dean said, trying not to sound like a whiny little kid, and knowing from Dad's glance that he'd barely escaped being scolded for his language. Again.

"Here, you can eat this," Sammy said, handing over the bottle of ketchup with a bright grin.

"I could eat you," Dean countered. "Or I'll just steal all your fries."

"Won't either."

"Watch me."

"I'd like to see you try," Sammy retorted, scowling.

"You won't see anything, because your face will be--" Dean stopped as a plate was set down on the table in front of him. A second was set down in front of Sammy, but Dean hardly noticed. His attention was all on the huge slice of apple pie before him.

He looked up at the waitress. She winked. "It's day-old; the chef was going to toss it. I figured a couple growing boys could do better with it."

Dean grabbed his fork, then stopped, looking over at his dad. Dad gave him a half-smile and nodded. Dean had two forkfuls into his mouth before he remembered his manners and looked up to thank the waitress.

"Marry me," he said, as the taste of apple and cinnamon melted on his tongue.

She laughed. "Come back when you're eighteen, sugar, and we'll talk." She winked again, and Dean didn't even watch her go as he attacked his pie. Beside him, Sammy was doing a good job of making sure there was nothing left for Dean to steal -- but that was OK, because if Sammy filled up on pie then maybe Dean could steal all of his fries.

Five

"Man, it isn't funny," Dean groused. Dad walked along beside him, still chuckling. Dean scowled and tried wiping the mud and slime off his shirt and out of his hair.

"I told you to watch out behind you," Dad said easily. Still sounding amused.

But he hadn't been the one to get tossed into the swamp, flipped through the air by the ghost of a sixteen year old girl.

Dean scowled as politely as he could. "I did watch out. She came up behind me and my back-up was too busy laughing to shoot her." He turned his scowl on Sammy, trudging along behind them. The little bastard was laughing at him, too.

"You should have seen your face!" he chortled, dancing around and juggling the shotgun in his lanky arms. Sammy had hit another growth spurt, and Dad said that it looked like he might not stop growing until he was as tall as some Uncle David they'd never met. Apparently Uncle David was a gigantic freak, or something.

Dean wasn't amused. "How would you like it if some ghost chick popped up and tried to marry you?"

Sounding prim and pompous, Sammy said, "I wouldn't have read the letter out loud that said I wanted to marry her in the first place."

Dean stopped and lunged for his brother, grabbing onto his arm and wrestling him to the ground -- spreading the mud and slime and God knew whatever else all over his brother. Sammy yelled and tried to flip him off, but whatever size he was going to be, he was still half a foot shorter than Dean and there was no way Dean was ever losing this battle.

Six

Dean stood beside the Impala, watching as Cassie went back inside. She'd stood on the porch watching him as he walked away; the look on her face telling him that trying to talk to her now would be pointless.

He grabbed the door handle and yanked it open, angry at himself for opening his big mouth in the first place. He should have known that she'd think he was crazy, or a jerk, or both. She hadn't said any of those things, just looked at him and asked him to go. Said it wasn't working out.

Told him not to call her for awhile.

But her eyes had said what she'd thought about what Dean had told her. Haltingly, unsure how to even begin a conversation that led to describing kinds of demons and how best to kill a ghost. She'd listened, laughed when she'd thought he was telling stories.

Grown silent when he'd just told her how his mom had died.

As Dean drove away from her house, he told himself he'd fucked things up completely. He should never have said a word...

Except he knew he'd had to. Ever since he'd met her he'd known, and he'd finally come to accept that this was the woman he would be happy to spend the rest of his life with. Which meant not lying to her. Telling her about his life, so he could share it with her.

He drove away, towards the open road, and tried not to think about the look in her eyes when she'd told him goodbye.

Seven

Dean was never so glad to be hunting alone as he was today. Flopping down on the motel bed, he reached up and rubbed at the back of his neck. The ghost had had a grip like a gorilla, and he'd latched onto Dean and not let go.

He'd finally been able to grab an iron nail and fling it back, dispersing the ghost long enough to grab his shotgun from the floor. He rubbed his neck again, sore as all hell and glad that he hadn't come away with worse injuries.

If he had, then Dad would ask about them in a couple days when they met up and Dean would have to tell him what had happened. He could hear it now -- hadn't Dean learned his lesson the last time when he'd almost married a ghost.

This time was worse, of course, because the bridegroom had appeared the second Dean had finished reading the suicide note he'd left, detailing the broken heart that had led to his death and the haunting that had drawn Dean to find him.

The ghost had reached up and kissed Dean smack on the mouth, hanging onto him with one huge hand at the back of Dean's neck.

Dean might not have minded had the guy been alive, but kissing something with rotted skin and a missing lower jaw... not an experience he ever wanted to repeat.

Eight

When Dean was twelve years old, he got into a fight with some kids at school. Nothing unusual about that, and it hadn't even warranted a call home. But he'd known it was different, both when it had happened and for a long time after.

"Man, does he have to be here?" Derrick had sneered back at Sammy, who, as usual, was following along after Dean.

Dean hadn't even glanced back to make sure who Derrick was talking about. "He isn't hurting you," Dean had said.

"We don't want babies hanging around," Mark had chimed in.

"He's not a baby," Dean had countered, and he'd almost told them how Sammy could recite a chant to banish a ghost without even tripping over the words, but of course he'd had to hold his tongue.

The other boys had stopped and gathered in a half-circle, facing Dean. Sammy had stepped up behind him. "I'll go home," he'd said, quietly.

"I'll go with you," Dean had said, clearly.

"You'd rather play with a baby?" Derrick had sneered, and that was when Dean had punched him in the nose. The fight hadn't taken long, a few kicks and punches and the other boys had run off, calling them both names. Dean hadn't minded much.

He'd turned to Sammy and found his brother staring at him with wide eyes. "I could have gone home," he'd said. "You didn't have to get in a fight with your friends."

Dean had shook his head. "They're not really my friends. They're just guys." He'd slung an arm around Sammy's neck and began walking along with him, back the way they'd come. Sammy hadn't looked convinced, so Dean had tried to explain. "When we move again, they won't even remember us. But you and me, we're gonna be brothers for the rest of our lives."

Sammy had nodded, and raced Dean to the corner, and Dean -- almost -- let him win.

Nine

He'd driven straight through from New Mexico to California, right through the desert and skirting Los Angeles as far as he could. Dean had finally reached Palo Alto early Saturday morning and he'd parked at a grocery store and hopped on a city bus.

He had the address memorised, and checked the city map at every stop until he reached the one he wanted. Sunglasses and a baseball hat, and wearing a blue jacket that Sammy had never seen before -- didn't make him think he would really go unnoticed, but he had figured it couldn't hurt to make the effort.

Dean walked from the bus stop down towards the campus, glancing at the street addresses along the way. He finally found the right block, then up ahead -- Sammy's apartment building. A run-down student slum, not any nicer than the dozens of places they'd stayed growing up. Dean was sorry to see that Sam's scholarship didn't allow for better rent; if his brother wanted normal, no doubt he wanted a nicer normal than this.

Walking closer, Dean searched for but didn't see any car that made him think it was Sam's. Either he was driving the ancient Honda Civic, or he had a bicycle stashed upstairs.

Dean stopped just on the far side of the building next door to Sam's. He could see the door numbers from here, could see the dingy white "5" hanging beside Sam's front door. There was no sign of Sam, no way to know if he was home or sleeping it off someplace.

Dean had no idea what sort of student Sam had become, one year away from everything he knew and nearly two semesters of college under his belt. Dean had shown up, two weeks before finals, planning on asking Sammy if he wanted to come away for the summer and join him. He hadn't told Dad, and knew he could spend the next few months staying on jobs that made sure his and Dad's paths never crossed.

He waited for a few minutes, debating again. His other plan had involved turning tail and leaving Sammy alone.

Finally he gave in to curiosity and crept over to the stairs leading up to Sammy's door. He climbed them as quietly as he could until he could just peek in the window. He saw a kitchen, neat and clean from the look of it. Whether that meant Sammy still hadn't learned to cook and ate out, or if it meant he'd discovered a neat streak, Dean didn't have a clue.

He climbed a couple more steps and could see further in, catching the corner of the living room. Not much furniture, but a pile of books that let him know that he'd definitely found the right apartment. Well, not that any other student wouldn't be just as likely to be buried in books, Dean told himself.

He looked for a moment more, thinking it wouldn't take more than reaching out to hit the doorbell and see if Sammy was home.

He saw movement inside and froze. Sammy walked out of another room, yawning and stretching like he'd just woken up. Dean stared, watching as his brother stumbled into the kitchen and began making a cup of coffee. He pulled a book towards him that had been lying open on the counter and began reading, making notes in a notebook. Studying, Dean realised. Picking right back up where he'd left off.

Dean turned and crept slowly down the stairs and walked to the bus stop. He took the bus back to the Impala, got back in and drove away. He'd take I-5 up to Oregon, and he'd call Dad from Portland and see about hooking up somewhere.

He thought about Sammy, and all the plans he'd ever made when they'd been growing up. All the times his little brother had followed him everywhere, tagging along, and how his eyes had shone whenever Dean had told him they'd be brothers forever.

Dean stopped just outside of Palo Alto to put a package in the mail, stuffing the box well with a dirty shirt that no one in his right mind would dig through. It was an old ACDC shirt, worn through and stained with things Dean couldn't even recognise anymore.

He'd been saving up since winter, thinking he and Sammy could hunt all summer and maybe have a little fun along the way. He put the cash in the mail, addressed to Sam, and didn't bother signing it.

Forever was a long time, and Dean thought that Sammy deserved to have whatever he wanted, even if it was normal, and boring, and alone.

Ten

Dean rolled over, hoping that the noise he'd heard wasn't an alarm going off. Why would he have set an alarm, anyhow? He had no reason at all to be awake, not until May at least. The last hunt was over, job well done and no one handing out handshakes and gratitude. But he had a warm bed and he'd had a long, hot shower before bed and now, now all he had to do was sleep the sleep of the Just for a month.

"Are you going to sleep all day?"

Dean nodded, burying his head deeper into the pillow. Then he felt lips touch the back of his neck, then an arm slid across his shoulders and he was being flipped over rather expertly to look up at the far too awake eyes of his brother.

"Bitch," he groaned.

"Jerk," Sam replied, and he leaned down and gave him another kiss, long and slow.

Dean woke up more fully, wrapping his arm around Sam's back and pulling him in closer. "Why am I awake?" he asked, grinning hopefully.

"Because I'm awake," Sam said.

"And I have to do whatever you do?" Dean groused. "Man, it used to be the other way around." But he shifted his leg as Sam moved partway on top of him, settling his weight along Dean's side.

"Deal with it," Sam said, and he began kissing Dean's neck, and collarbone, and on down his chest in a very promising manner.

Dean sighed dramatically, then smiled. "You were always kind of a brat," he said, then he yelped as Sam's teeth nipped his skin. "Careful! You bite it, you bought it."

Sam looked up at him, then slowly licked Dean's stomach, right on the spot he'd bitten. "I thought I already owned it," he said, grinning.

"So didn't I ever tell you not to break your toys?" Dean asked him, then let his head fall back onto the pillow as Sam's tongue did things that made him think about maybe not bitching about being awake.

Until later, unless Sam could be convinced to go bring them back some breakfast.

the end