WHO: Kate Bishop, Sam Winchester WHEN: Saturday WHERE: Their room WHAT: Unpacking. TRIGGER WARNINGS: A baby who is not there anymore. Sort of post-partum depression. Pregnancy and labor talk. Some body dysmorphia from it.
It had been a rough… week. Had it really been almost a week since they’d gotten back from Storybrooke? Christ. Or rather, Lucifer, who was the real problem. Sam hadn’t even had time to fully process what had happened to him, to them, before he was thrown back into his old life and had to deal with the Lucifer problem right away. Thankfully he’d had plenty of practice with being thrown into situations in spite of being fully unprepared for them.
He had still wanted to find a moment to talk to Kate, but it never quite seemed like the right time. His head was somewhere else. Hers seemed to be, too. And, truthfully, he was a little afraid of where this conversation would lead them, and really wasn’t ready to open it up until things had calmed down a little. Being on edge and strung out even more didn’t seem like it would make this go any smoother for them.
But finally, it was over. Lucifer locked in the cage. Cas back where he belonged, graceless but still alive. Sam was exhausted, not to mention sore and aching all over, and he’d slept for a long time.
At long last he was awake, and healed - thanks to Gabriel - and there was nothing else taking precedence, reason to put it off any longer.
He found Kate in their room, unpacking the boxes of their belongings that had been put into storage while they’d been gone. That seemed like a good sign that she was ready to talk, too.
“Hey,” he said, smiling tiredly at her. “You want some help?”
"Yeah, sure. Always." Her return smile wasn't quite the way she'd planned for it to come out.
Kate was tired, and not just the normal after a big fight kind of tired. This was the kind of tired that seeped into her bones and crawled its way into her head and refused to decamp. She hadn't played much of a part in Lucifer's downfall, but it had been enough stress and worrying about everyone (most) involved. It kept her mind occupied enough while it was happening, but there was too much quiet. Most of the time, Kate sought it out too. She went to the library Friday and spent some time there while Sam was sleeping and everyone else was recovering. She'd written to her friends, but they hadn't been there so they couldn't even sympathize with experience. "You're better at this stuff than I am."
There were so many things she felt were wrong with her body that she couldn't count them, but the biggest, most glaring problem was that she should have baby weight. She'd kept herself in shape when she was pregnant, but there should still have been whatever padding leftover. Her ankles had been swollen and her back was constantly aching.
Now there was just an aching in her chest that she couldn't get rid of. "I hadn't started unpacking the weights. You could start there if you want."
“Sure.” Sam glanced around, and tested one of the closed boxes - heavy. Probably the right one. He set about opening it up, glad to have something to do with his hands while they talked.
He’d thought about this part even less than about what had happened in Storybrooke. Settling into a room was still a low priority for him, and when they’d returned, he hadn’t even unpacked his clothes - just opened the box and sifted through it to find what he needed. He’d paid more attention to his weapons, making sure they were all back and in good condition. As for everything else - which wasn’t much - he’d done a quick inventory, then closed the boxes right back up again. Something to worry about later, assuming of course that Lucifer didn’t kill him and he actually had a later time to look forward to.
Thankfully, he did.
“Feels weird, doesn’t it,” he said, almost absentmindedly. “We were gone so long they packed everything up.”
She'd had to fight to get her damn bow back, not to mention all the special arrows she had for it. Most people were understanding, to a point anyway, but damn. Who knew what they'd done with them? They could have thrown off the entire straightness and camber of the bow. That happened over time, but it didn't take much to throw it off and ruin a shot. She was going to have to test every single arrow. At least Teddy had the foresight to snatch the soul bow. That should definitely not be in anyone else's hands.
She pulled clothing out of the boxes, setting them in piles on the bed so she could fold them. Her purple costume was thrown somewhere near the pillows to get it out of the way. That'd go on the wall as usual. "At least we've still got our room. They didn't give that away."
Sam opened the box, and carefully drew out a set of weights. What he didn’t say, in response, was that any other room in this bunker probably would have been just about the same. He still hadn’t really know how to attach that much sentimentality to a place. But this seemed like a bad time to bring that up, especially since he was, still, extremely grateful to be back in their room with her, with Cas and Dean across the hall, and everything back to normal.
“I just mean - we’re literally putting our old lives back together.” He ran his fingertips over the smooth, familiar surface of the dumbbell. “Kinda feels like all this was -- well, a whole magical lifetime ago.”
Kate was grateful that her back was to him in that instant. She felt her body tense and her fingers slowed their movements as she folded one of her shirts. It was hard not to think of Eleanor without aching. She'd only been pregnant for all of two weeks, in the end, but they had been important two weeks. The baby had been placed on her chest; she'd felt her warmth, and now it was gone.
"It was a whole magical lifetime ago," she answered, and her voice betrayed her. It crackled with emotion, even as she tried to shove it down. "I'm just glad we don't have the amount of stuff we had there." Even as she said it, she winced.
Sam wasn’t looking at her until she spoke, but the emotion in her voice completely distracted him. He set down the weight and moved over to her, only to hesitate before reaching out to wrap his arms around her the way he wanted. She’d been avoiding getting too close, and he knew some of that was because she was just trying to hold it together, some of it was probably because she was trying not to distract him from the problem with Cas, but he didn’t know if it was more than that. He ended up resting his hands on her shoulders, a way of making contact that was easier for her to pull away from if she didn’t want it.
“Hey,” he said, quietly. “I know I’ve been distracted, because we had to jump right back in and help Cas, but that’s over now. You don’t have to deal with this alone.”
Kate knew that things with his brother in that world weren't the best, and maybe that was the worst part of that world. The weird estrangeness, the way people talked about Dean there, but Sam had had a life. He'd had a childhood that didn't involve monsters. He went to school, and he had a good job that didn't involve routinely coming home covered in blood or the possibility that a futzing demon would smite him. Her mom and dad were still gone there, but her mom had a legacy and it was a damn good one.
"Is it —" A heavy swallow before she urged herself to continue. "Is it bad that I wish we could go back? We were married. Everything was normal. We were — we had — and she's not here. She's just… gone."
“No,” Sam said, “Of course that’s not a bad thing.”
She had definitely taken this harder than he had, and he felt bad about that. He had spent a long time wanting that normal life with the white picket fence, the wife, the kids -- and spent nearly as much time, especially in the last few years, talking himself right back out of it. Convincing himself that he didn’t really want it, after all.
And… Dean hadn’t been in his life. He’d been miserable. Cas hadn’t been there at all. It was hard for Sam to justify wanting to go back, himself, but he still understood the urge.
Especially because: “I know. I miss her, too.”
She knew that if she'd been in her right mind, she'd miss Billy and Teddy. She'd miss Dean and Castiel and everyone else that she'd gotten to know here. She'd miss being a superhero, but if she was stuck here in this world where she never got to do any of that… It was almost better to forget all of that. That damn costume, hanging on the wall, because she couldn't wear it to go hunting. She stared ahead at the blank wall.
"I had a baby." Kate remembered only once having a pregnancy scare back when Mother told her that she'd soon join her legions. And at the time, they thought only parents could be affected. She and Noh hopped universes to get as many pregnancy tests as they could. All were negative so it sort of baffled her what Mother meant. It wasn't parenthood after all. It was age. Kate had been about to turn 21. "I remember all of that pain. It was like fourteen goddamn hours. I thought I was going to break your arm I was holding onto it so tight. All for nothing."
She turned around to face him. "And the worst thing is that I don't even want a kid. I'm not ready for that, not now. Maybe never. And definitely not here. I am so confused."
“I remember it, too.” It hadn’t been nearly the same for him, of course, but he’d been there for all fourteen hours. It had been an emotional endurance trial more than a physical one, but a little bit physical, too, holding onto her and letting her hold onto him. “I…”
Sam still felt thoroughly unprepared for this conversation. He wanted to make her feel better, but he didn’t know how. He decided on honesty, since there wasn’t much other choice.
“I’ve been put into alternate lives before, but this one lasted a lot longer and felt a lot more real than the others,” he said, lifting one hand to rub the back of his head. “I remember really wanting to have that kid, even though it wasn’t planned. I remember everything we went through, from when we found out you were pregnant until she was born. But… it’s different for me, I think, because I wasn’t actually…there’s more of a disconnect.” He paused. “That last hour was so weird. I couldn’t decide if she felt real or not. I didn’t know if I wanted her to be real or not. I’ve… actively avoided thinking about kids for a long time, honestly.”
Kate sank down onto the bed, right on the edge of the pile of clothing she'd just separated out. She was struggling so much without everything that happened to Castiel during this week that she just felt numb. Until that was all over, and then there was not much to do on a hunt but think. There was this feeling that she wasn't living up to her potential here, and she knew exactly what it was: saving people, stopping supervillains and Skrulls. It was that she wasn't leading her team or helping Clint with his stupid track suit mafia. She'd gone native.
"I had all the physical stuff, and now —" she gestured to her flat stomach, the one she worked so hard to maintain. There should have been stretch marks and baby fat to get rid of. "I don't know how I feel."
Sam sat down next to her, and after a moment, reached out a little hesitantly to put an arm loosely around her shoulders. He ran his hand over her upper arm, reassuringly (he hoped).
“It’s a lot,” he agreed wryly. “I put everything aside to help save Cas, and even now that’s over, I don’t really know how to start sorting through it all.” Putting emotions aside to do the job was a normal coping mechanism for him, but he just usually had to keep doing that -- he didn’t usually get the luxury to sit back and process everything.
But that was the thing about this place. His life wasn’t the same. He’d already had the opportunity to sit back and process everything that had happened to him at home, but this was… different. If he was being totally honest, he wouldn’t have minded the excuse of having more to do. More for Kate to do, too, because he knew the stuff with Cas had probably left her feeling pretty useless. Even if she really hadn’t needed to deal with something like that when she was already going through something pretty heavy.
“Maybe we still need more time,” he offered after a moment. “To figure things out. I just want you to know I’m ready to talk, when you are.”
It was complicated. Kate wasn't really used to having someone to lean on. She'd never really needed one before. Blah blah, strong independent woman, and Noh-Varr wasn't exactly the type of person to have a wide range with human emotions or how to cope with them. Forget about Eli, he was more into smashing things than she was whenever something was bothering him.
(She wondered if Eli would come back to the superhero fold now that Cassie was alive again.)
"Yeah, time," she heard herself echo, but even as she said it, she leaned against his side. He already had his arm around her; it worked. "I did think about one positive thing about coming back like this."
Sam was glad when she leaned into him, and he tightened his arm around her just a little. Leaning over, he pressed a kiss to the top of her head.
Confusing as everything was, his affection for her had not been called into question. If anything he was even more impressed with her strength for having seen her deal with unexpected pregnancy and labor - the latter of which was far more of a painful ordeal than he’d been able to imagine. One thing that was exactly the same, between Sam Winchester and Sam Wesson, was that he loved Kate.
“What’s that?” he asked, glad to hear that there was at least something good that had come out of it.
She looked up from her place at his shoulder. His breath was warm on her forehead. It had occurred to her that, yeah, in both worlds, they were still together. It seemed like maybe some sort of sign, but it was hard to pin that on anything but blind luck with magic in play. Kate dropped her hand onto the top of his thigh. "We don't have to wait six weeks before having sex."
After a moment of surprised silence, Sam laughed, a little wryly. “No, we don’t,” he said, “But we can wait until you feel better.”
She might not be feeling the real, physical after-effects of pregnancy and labor, but he’d gotten the impression from what she’d said that some of it still lingered, that she didn’t feel entirely comfortable with her body after it had changed so suddenly. They were both still emotional, too, and with the way she’d been avoiding him lately, he really hadn’t been expecting her to be thinking about that so soon.
"Thought it would lighten the mood. Behold my success." Kate patted his leg before weighing the pros and cons of standing up to finish this unpacking bullshit. She couldn't make her legs move. With the temperatures rising outside, the air conditioning was coming on more and more inside the compound. It was nice and warm against Sam. It always was.
Honestly, she kind of just wanted to curl up in bed again, but not alone. She'd spent most of the last week doing just that on her own. It was time to step out of that and learn to lean on her boyfriend. "I think I'm good with some kissing. It's been like a week, and I think I'm going through withdrawals."
Sam smiled, and leaned in, kissing her cheek. “Alright. I think I can handle that, too.”