It will be taco night, mid-winter, when Sam caves. He'll be washing up after dinner as usual—he never did learn to cook for shit so he's on permanent dish duty—and his wife will be sipping a cup of green tea while she watches him move about the kitchen.
"They're asking again," Sam will say as he focuses on the dishwasher. Plate plate plate plate, pretty plates all in a row. "I guess J.D's class is talking about the Second Era in social studies.”
"Yeah, I heard all about it at the park today."
"What do you think?" he asks.
"I think what I've always thought, babe,” she says as she swirls the dregs of her cup, the future in a handful of soggy leaves. “It's your story to tell. You'll know when to tell it."
Sam isn’t so sure. He doesn't know how to answer all the complicated questions his kids are bound to have. There are still people who think the rebellion ruined the fabric of society. People who hold clandesstine meetings to discuss the good ol’ days before the Redistribution, and make plans for bringing about the glory days once more.
Thankfully, it's not a very wise move politically to come out in support of the Second Era these days.
The kids have badgered him endlessly to tell the story of his family, of their history, and when his wife agrees with a sad shrug, he will finally tell them.
Not everything, but enough.
It’s mid-winter, only three days after Dean's birthday, and Sam wonders if he'll ever stop waiting for Dean to show up on his birthday with a six pack in one hand and an apple pie in the other.
Only Dean, he thinks with a smile. Only Dean would think beer and pie taste good together.
After tacos, and tooth brushing, and then actual tooth brushing because Mary thinks she's the first kid in the world to only pretend to brush her teeth, they settle on the large bed Sam shares with his wife, one kid tucked under each arm.
"Once upon a time," Sam tells his children.
"Da-aad," Mary says. "You said you'd tell us a truth. Only fairy tales start that way."
She says fairy tales like she would say stinky boys or ba-bies, with so much derision Sam wants to laugh.
"All good stories start that way," Sam scoffs. "Now will you let me tell this story?"
They settle back down, burrowing into him, their small bodies tethering him to now, not letting him get too lost in his head.
"Once upon a time," he starts again, with a warning look to Mary, "the country was run by an evil ogre. Really, it was three evil ogres, who combined all their money and all their resources to rule the land. And they were called The Corporation."
"What are resources?" J.D. asks.
"That's a dumb name for an ogre," Mary says.
Sam agrees, and they settle against him again, and he continues. "But there were also good people, many good people, including a man named John who vowed to take down the evil giant."
Mary screws up her nose and wonders aloud if ogres are the same things as giants.
"It was a giant ogre, stupid," J.D. says. “Now shut up.”
"Anyway..." Sam cuts in, trying to head off the argument before it can really get going, "this man John gave his life helping save people from the evil giant. Or ogre. Or giant ogre."
"And this man had two sons!" J.D. says triumphantly.
"And this man had two sons," Sam agrees, trying to ignore the pinpricks at the corners of his eyes.
He draws the children closer, see the shadow of his wife in the hallway as she listens.
"And the oldest son was a hero, just like his father. And he spent his life riding around the country on a black mare named Baby, and he protected innocent people from the evil giant-ogre..."