A/N: OK, OK, so I read a bunch of Winchester Christmas fics and decided that I, too, needed to write them. There's some really great ones out there! I also felt a hankering after Wee!Chester fics, so here goes.
Note: The chronology may be a little off—Dean is supposed to be 12 here (in the first part), and Sam 8, but I know the Christmas shown in "A Supernatural Christmas" was 1991…so I've changed things up a little bit. I don't think it affects canon very much.
As always, this is not slash. Nor will it ever be. Not even if you squint.
Enjoy! And please review. Really. Reviews just make my day like nothing else :-) I know, I know. I'm begging. But seriously, if I could deploy Sam Winchester puppy-dog eyes, I would.
On that note, nothing—not Sam, not Dean (sigh)—is mine but my OC and my words.
It's the bump that wakens me. Not that I've ever been quite a deep sleeper—four children will shake that out of you, sure enough—but this was more decisive than the usual rattle of the heater or of my bewhiskered Thomas prowling about his nightly feline duties.
This was a bump in the night.
I shifted—or creaked…no point denying that my bones aren't what they once were—out of my bed and felt about for my slippers. I won't face a bumping burglar in my bare feet.
A burglar on Christmas Eve? Now there's something pretty brazen. I've gone seventy-two years (in a small town, sure, but still—) and I've never seen the like of this. No doubt they're rooting around under my tree, taking every present that looks like it could snag a few dollars when they hawk it tomorrow.
Not on my watch. Roger and Louise and my grandbabies are coming here first thing tomorrow, and I'll be darned if they don't have a proper Christmas.
If Henry were alive, he'd make me stay up here and grab his shotgun from underneath the bed. But Henry's dead—twelve years last month—and I know how to work a shotgun myself.
I'm not too sprightly on the stairs, but I can be creepmouse when I like, and I'm tiptoeing through the living room doors more quietly than quickly.
Sure enough, movement by the tree.
"Hands up!" I shout, and I'm not kidding myself, an old lady shouting isn't the most intimidating spectacle, but I'll let my 12-gauge do the talking for me.
Speaking of twelve…
The burglar's a kid.
He straightens up, face pale in the moonlight that's slipping its fingers through the blinds, hands clenched tight around a shiny-wrapped gift that I recognize as being the model car I got for Jeremy. No doubt he figured out the shape.
We stare at each other for a few long moments. Even in the dark I can make out a dusting of freckles across angled features, tousled dirty blonde hair, and the clearest hazel eyes—caught about half-way between green and amber—that I've ever seen. Give him ten years, and he'll be a looker.
He's right terrified, though he's trying hard not to show it.
He should be.
"Please, ma'am, don't shoot," he whispers. Lord, he's doing all he can to keep a quaver out of his voice.
"Why not?" I demand, but I'd be lying to the both of us if I pretended I had it in me (gun's awful heavy anyway). I set down my 12-gauge but keep a sharp eye on him. "What d'you think you're doing? You little thief!"
His face is wary, pinched. I can tell he's a bright one, and he's swiftly coming up with a yarn to throw me off. I wave a hand impatiently. I've no time for a youngster's cobwebs. "The truth now."
His proud little shoulders slump a little. "It's not for me," he murmurs. The quaver's making an appearance again.
I wag a finger at him. "As if I'd believe that! I told you, the truth now!"
Now, that hit a chord. His head snaps up and those eyes crackle almost fierce-like. "That is the truth! It's for my brother. He's only eight. He doesn't understand—he'll be disappointed if he doesn't have any presents." The way he says it, it's as though he thinks it's the worst possible thing that could happen. But—darn it all, the look in his eyes almost makes me agree with him.
Suddenly I don't feel so in charge anymore, though I'm the one about to be burglarized by a pre-teen. "Hon, that's the just way it is. Not everybody gets the nicest presents. What about your parents? They've got it handled." Somehow I think he knows about Santa Claus already. There's far too little innocence in this child's eyes…but I trust him just the same.
Darnit. Age is making me sentimental. It was the same way with Henry.
The boy's gaze shifts down, long lashes obscuring whatever those clear eyes would tell me in a snap. "My daddy ain't around. He's on business."
The words spill off his lips easy enough, but I know he's not telling me all there is to tell. "And your mama?"
His face just—stills. No words. He won't look at me. But I know.
The room feels colder all a'sudden, even though my shawl's seen me through some low temperatures. "Now you listen here," I say, and his eyes flick up at me again. Lord above, but there's a lot of hurt in that boy's eyes. It doesn't seem right. I wonder how he managed to pack in so much pain in so few years, and then it occurs to me that it's none of my business.
But it is my house.
"Now you listen here," I say again, and my voice is getting a little scratchy, a little unsure, and a new shade comes into his eyes—hang it all, he's amused now, by me! That's a mischievous glint if ever there was one. I didn't raise four boys for nothing. This one's got a devilish streak, I'd stake my life on it, but he's keeping it in check as if he knows not to push me.
"You have, as I see it, just about two choices. You can get yourself out from under my tree, slip out that window you came in, and never come back. Or you can go back to wherever you're at, get that brother of yours, and bring him here for a proper Christmas."
His eyes tell me too much again, and it near bowls me over—the want in his eyes. Plain as day he's hungering for something. Safety. Family. Love. But a mask slips up quick, and it's a good one—ten more years and it'll be hard to tell fact from fiction. "Why would I come back?"
"Cause if you do," I say, and I know I've cornered him fair and square, "I'll let you take that car for your brother." Jeremy'll never know the difference.
Oh, but does that do it. His eyes dart down to the package in his hands and he nods, once, quick. "We'll come." Then he sets it down, real careful, and slips out through the window again.
Guess it didn't occur to him that he could use the door this time.
It may be roundabout midnight, but I'm not going back to bed for a while. Might as well put the teakettle on. I shut the window, and putter around the kitchen. They aren't getting the turkey, but I'll take out some of the casserole and the pie. Boys like pie.
The clock's twitching its way towards half-past when I hear the window creak open again.
"Hon, we put a door on this house for good reason—"
I stop short when I catch sight of who he's brought with him. Oh, but that's a sweet child. Big brown eyes—less flecks of green than his brother's—and a mop of brown hair.
His brother's got a hand on his shoulder. "This is Sam," he announces, as though that says it all.
Maybe it does.
It's then that I remember that between the 12-gauge and presents and questions I never got around to introductions.
"Nice to meet you, Sam," I say. "I'm Mabel."
"I'm Dean," says the boy, seeming to remember his manners. He extends a rather graceful hand, for a boy, keeping the other on his brother.
Sam's lips quirk up into a smile complete with some dimples that put Jeremy's to shame. "Dean said there'd be presents."
Dean's eyes are fixed on mine, questioning-like, and I can tell he's waiting to see if I've kept my promise.
Course I have.
"Presents later," I say. "Dinner first."
Sam looks thoughtful, then accepts this proposition. "I'm hungry."
I sit them down at my kitchen table, and as I ladle some food onto plates I keep a close eye on those boys. Sam's hungry, but he's waiting for his older brother's signal to dig in. And Dean—Dean might just be hungrier, but the boy's got a guard up a mile thick, and he's being mighty careful before he does anything.
"Y'all can eat now," I tell him. I won't watch this food get cold, I can tell you that much.
He toys with his fork. There's calluses running along his hands, and it makes me wonder what he's been doing. He can't be more than eleven or twelve. I don't have much time to mull over it, though—those hazel eyes meet mine. I bet anybody'd call them soul-piercing. "Why are you doing this, ma'am?"
"I told you to call me Mabel," I tell him. My voice has gone all soft and I can't for the life of me think why. "I'm doing it because—why, because it's Christmas."
It hurts me bad when I see that that doesn't seem to mean much to him.
He still needs an explanation, though, so I try to meet him half-way…I just glance over at his brother, and nod.
He gets it. A little smile crosses his face and he taps the edge of his brother's plate. "Eat up, Sammy."
Sam—or is it Sammy? I'd better not risk it—doesn't need a second notice. He digs in with gusto.
I watch Dean watch him, and I get it then—get it so well that it stops me right in my tracks. My God, he loves that kid. I can see it in every inch of his wiry little figure…he'd do anything and everything for his brother, everything that dead mother and deadbeat dad can't.
My eyes are watering. I hadn't thought that there were onions in that casserole.
It takes a little while—my oh my, I'm going soft, letting children up past their bedtimes (it's nearly one o'clock!) but I'll break a few rules because it's Christmas and Dean's finally laughing, at something his little brother said.
I haven't felt this young in a long time.
"Presents?" Sam inquires, as politely as an eight-year-old can…but I can see his hands knotting up his napkin. He's impatient.
"Sure, then," I say. I catch Dean's eye and he makes for the living room, comes back with the car. He's holding it like it's going to smash if he isn't careful.
Sam's eyes light up. Boy, but that child probably gets his way a lot. He's as cute as a button. "Is it—" his eyes flicker questioningly towards me.
"It's from your brother," I tell him. I don't think I've ever seen as much gratitude as in the look Dean gives me.
Sam squeals with delight when he rips it open, and Dean runs a quick hand through his brother's hair, shyly affectionate. "Just so you feel better when Dad leaves me the Impala," he teases, but Sam's too happy to do much more than give him a friendly punch on the arm and then pull him into a hug.
"Your daddy has an Impala?" I ask. I don't mean to pry, but something's up with these boys' father and I've a mind to find out.
"'67," Dean says proudly. "327 engine and a four-barrel carburetor. She's a beauty."
Well. Now I know why he picked out the car. "Your daddy work with cars a lot?"
"He's good at tinkering with them." Just like that, the guard's back up. Dean has secrets, I can tell, but he's not about to give them out.
Sam's not so tightlipped. "Daddy's on a hunting trip," he supplies.
Now that just about makes my blood boil. What kind of a father leaves two babies on their own on Christmas, to snag a couple of eight-pointers?
Dean flashes his brother a look. "Nah, he's just on business."
"What does he do?" I ask, trying not to look too curious.
Dean's eyes are fixed on his scraped-clean plate. "It's complicated," he says, and fidgets. He's getting ready to head out. Too many questions, I bet. I should've kept my mouth shut.
It's all the same, though—Sam's head is beginning to nod, his long bangs flopping in his eyes. Dean stands up, taking his and his brother's plates to the sink. Somebody did teach this boy some manners, sometime. I wonder if it's their lost mama. I wonder if Dean has her eyes.
"We should…um…we should go." Dean tucks Sam's car under one arm and pulls his brother up. "C'mon, Sammy. It's late."
Sam thanks me sleepily, his head lolling against his big brother's shoulder. I've never been the hugging type, even with my grandbabies, but I just want to wrap my arms around that little motherless boy (boys) and hold tight.
I don't. "It was real nice having you boys over. Maybe we'll have to do something again, not so late." I know already what the answer will be. They don't strike me as the staying type.
Sure enough, Dean shakes his head. "We're hitting the road day after tomorrow," he explains, sounding a bit regretful. "We're in the motel up the street."
I wish I could give that daddy of theirs a talking-to. "Drop me a line if you ever stop this way again," I say. It's not likely to happen again, but it's a hopeful time of year.
Dean smiles. It lights up his face brighter than a Christmas Tree—or it would if it were a real smile. "Will do." He pauses, and then says—"Thank you."
I brush away the words; they mean too much. "It's nothing."
"You made Sammy happy," he says simply. "That's not nothing."
I wish I knew how to put something back together behind those old eyes of his. But I don't know how. So I just say goodbye, and watch them fade into the darkness.
I doubt I'll ever see them again.
Ten years later…
Hard to believe it's already December.
Roger and Louise came for Thanksgiving, so they won't be up. Jeremy's going to college out in Wyoming, Angela's up in Vermont. My other three don't visit a lot, but Peter said he might stop by on Christmas day. That is, tomorrow.
I totter—I'm eighty-two, what do you expect?—towards the diner. Truth be told, it's been a few years since I did much cooking, but I still get about.
That darn little bell dings drunkenly—oh, I know all diners have bells, but this one's been haywire for a couple of decades—and I make my way inside, nearly bumping into Chuck Pearce on my way out. I'll not break my hip on account of that no-good rascal, not on Christmas Eve. He's lucky I've still got my sense of balance.
"I'll have a coke," I say to that fool young Scott Wainright behind the counter, and head towards my booth—always my booth—in the corner.
Trouble is, it's occupied.
Lacey Stevens—my, she is a piece of work and a half-penny tramp, but she ought to know better than to take my booth—is spread all over one seat, gazing across into the eyes of someone I don't recognize as a local.
From this angle, all I can see is long lean legs in torn blue jeans, a battered leather jacket, a stubbled jaw and some spiked-up hair. Well. Lacey's got better taste than I thought (I'm eighty-two, not blind!), but she's still a tramp and she is still in my spot.
James Dean there reaches under the table and starts sliding a hand up on her knee, and I've had about enough. But then he turns his head just slightly, and there's something mighty familiar about his face. I remember as soon as I see his eyes.
Hazel—somewhere between amber and green. I'd know them anywhere.
My throat gets all tight, suddenly, and I don't know what's up or down for a minute. I could have sworn I'd never see him again.
Lacey giggles as his hand moves higher and Good Lord above, but I know this boy and he is a lot better than this. I march (fine, totter!) up and give her the look. I know her mama and her grandmama and I ain't afraid to tell tales. "Git."
I sit down in my spot.
Handsome here—I knew he'd be a looker—seems pretty hacked off for a second, but then he covers it all up with charm.
I knew him when. That charm isn't nothing but a fancier guard than he used to put up.
Ten more years and it'll be hard to tell fact from fiction.
Well, here we are.
"Hello, Dean," I say, real soft. Those eyes of his always brought that sentimental side out of me, and they're carrying a heck of a lot more pain than they were ten years ago. The fact that he's all the better at hiding it is a sorrow all its own.
He stiffens, like I'm a ghost—sure, but I'm not that bad for eighty-two—and I suddenly realize that he could be dangerous if he wanted to be.
Seems like that old 12-gauge has switched hands.
"Don't you remember me?" I ask, before he gets any such ideas in his head.
Lord, I hope he does. I've thought of those boys every Christmas—and oftener—for a decade. Maybe it's silly, but I hoped that they thought of me sometimes too.
He smiles sudden, bright and quick, and it's only later that I realize that I should be flattered by how close it comes to reaching his eyes. But I don't know all that's gone on yet, so it just looks a little shaky to me. "Mabel?"
I pat his hand. It's still graceful—strong, long-fingered—but a lot more calloused. "You're looking well," I tell him.
He winks, all suave-like. "Right back at ya."
I give him a much nicer version of the look I just gave Lacey. "Oh, don't you flirt with me, boy."
He laughs. It's almost real. "You still scaring off intruders with your 12-gauge?"
"Just on occasion." I shrug as lightly as you can with that darn arthritis acting up. "It's mighty good to see you, Dean. And at this time, too! Who'd have thought? Ten years exactly."
"Yeah, that's right." His eyes are suddenly focused down. I notice, then that he's just sitting. Not waiting for anybody. Not waiting for—
"Dean," I begin, and his old eyes (I doubt his face will ever catch up to them, even when he's my age) meet mine, seeming to guess the question before I've asked it. I switch to another tack, just because. "What brings you to town?"
"The family business," he replies, cautious.
That must mean his daddy is still in the picture. But what about—I've just got to say it. "Dean, where's Sam?"
I wish I hadn't right away. Every one of his walls snaps up about him in a second, but just before they do I catch a sight of what's going on behind the careless smile on his pretty face. That smile…it might fool some, but it looks downright fragile to me, as though it would break at a touch.
Heck, it's already broken. Shattered.
And I thought he'd been hurting when I first met him.
"Sam…" he starts, and I notice he doesn't say Sammy. Maybe it hurts too much. "Sam's living his life." Without me, is implied so loud it might as well have come across a loudspeaker. "He's off to college."
Ordinarily, that wouldn't be so terrible. But this boy is as far from ordinary as they come. I knew as plain as day when I first saw the two of them together, that they were all that the other one had. They didn't have a mama, or a daddy, or a home. Sam's found something else, seemingly.
And here he is, six-odd feet of darn handsome manhood, with ancient eyes and a broken heart, trying to fill up the emptiness in him with barflies like Lacey, trying out a thousand smiles in the hopes that one will stick.
I stand up. "You're coming with me."
His eyebrows shoot up. "I didn't take anything."
"Oh, don't wise-off to me. I'm feeding you dinner."
"You got pie?" There's the little boy again. I knew he was hiding in there somewhere.
"Hon, this is Arkansas. You think a self-respecting woman hasn't got some pie on Christmas Eve?"
We take my car, but he tells me about his. Same Impala, but he has it now—and his face brightens when he tells me about his baby.
Baby. Makes me think about real babies, about what a good daddy he'd be. I never saw a kid look out for his brother like that.
Course, his brother's gone, so I don't bring it up.
Dean's all charm when we get to my place, telling me that it looks just as nice as it always did. He's surprised (pleasantly, I think) to see that I never did fix the lock on that window.
We go inside, and his eyes sweep towards the tree and its mound of presents. Say what you will, but I've still got a knack with wrapping paper.
It's then I remember. I watch his jaw clench up a little bit. Bet he's thinking, same as me. What started it all. Who started it all.
"Dean said there'd be presents."
I tug his arm, real gentle. "C'mon, honey."
He smiles like it's nothing.
"You made Sammy happy. That's not nothing."
I serve him a fine dinner and he eats like a man, laughing and joking and making me feel young again, same as he did ten years ago.
But I'd have given anything to be able to set another place.
Something tells me Dean would too.