We all scream for ice cream!
A/N: Just a quick shout-out to my big sis! Love ya, Wraithdarte! This is my peace offering for missing our video chat date!
"Five whole dollars!" Sammy whooped in childish delight. The child in John's arms was jumping up and down as much as his father's grip on him would allow, with the unadulterated glee of a four year old. John allowed a small smile to pull at his lips, despite how hot and bothered he was feeling.
John had been gone longer than expected; what was supposed to be three days at Jim's turned into three weeks when the black dog he had been hunting turned out to be the exception to the norm, travelling in a pack of four instead of lone. He had missed his boys terribly, and this, taking them out today, was his way of making it up to them. They had both helped the elderly members of Jim's congregation to mow their lawn, since the heat was something awful these past few weeks, and as a reward of sorts, Jim had presented them with 5 dollars each. Of course, he had wanted to give them 5 dollars for every lawn they mowed, but John had to draw a line; Jim spoilt his kids like a doting grandfather, which in every way he was, more than anyone else. As the toddler in his arms waved his arms wildly around his head in an attempt to convey his enthusiasm, John had to duck to avoid getting hit in the face. He honestly didn't know how Dean handled Sam's endless energy, because he certainly found it a special type of taxing. But then again, Dean had an inhuman, infinite amount of patience with his baby brother.
Speaking of his eldest, the 8 year old was now taking pity on him and trying to calm his brother down.
"What're you gonna do with your money, De?" Sammy asked him eagerly, leaning towards his brother, comfortable in the knowledge that John wouldn't let him fall.
Dean grinned, and John's heart automatically warmed over. The rare moment of excitement in his oldest son's eyes made John's day. He knew he was the reason Dean was more adult than most men John's age, and he hated himself for that, but none of that meant that he enjoyed seeing his boy with the maturity of a thirty year old man. He just happened to capitalize on the benefits.
Even as the thought formed in his mind, John grimaced with self-recrimination and disgust.
"I'm gonna buy the new Batman comic," Dean revealed with an excited grin. John breathed deeply and made himself focus instead on those two voices that always brought him back from the brink. Back from the dark places. "What about you, Squirt?"
"Ice-cweam!" Sammy cheered, seeing the truck parked on the curb. Obliging because he missed the kid's endless enthusiasm for everything, John began to walk to the truck, trying to still the bouncing toddler, before he was stopped by tugging on his shirt sleeve.
"Dad," Dean's face held the little reprimand he could muster. "Sammy hasn't had anything for lunch yet. He can't have ice-cream until he eats lunch. You'll spoil him."
Dean sounded so ridiculously like Mary that John needed to bit the inside of his cheek to keep from crying out. He distinctly remembered a time when Mary had laughingly scolded him for immediately relenting to the wide green eyes of his angelic first-born asking him for ice-cream before dinner. John fought past the mind-numbing grief and focused on the pride and love he felt for his boy.
"I think we can make an exception, just for today Ace," he forced out, winking reassuringly and summoning a small smile. The boy grinned and shook his head, muttering under his breath something that sounded suspiciously like Okay, but he's your problem after that.
Yeah; Dean was definitely Mary's boy.
And so it saw them five minutes later walking down the street, with Sammy happily licking on a chocolate hazelnut cone.
In retrospect, John could say that he really should have known better, but it became too late for hindsight the minute Sammy's cone fell on to the pavement with a soft splotch.
Like clockwork, Sam's eyes filled with tears.
"De…ice-cweam…" he mumbled, and it was with equal jealousy and pride that John noted Sammy looked, not to him, but to his big brother, begging him to fix it. He remembered a time when Dean used to look at him like that…but the kid had been fixing everything himself since he was 4.
Dean bit his lip, looking like he was thinking hard. Tears began to fall faster down Sammy's face as ants descended rapidly on the fallen treat. After his moment of inaction, he chided himself; how could he be waiting for Dean to fix this, when he was the parent?
John sighed and tried to console his youngest, not noticing it at first when Dean ran off.
"I'm sorry, Sammy, buddy," he shrugged helplessly. What could fix a fallen ice-cream? John didn't have his wallet on him, and Sam was intent on the glob of chocolate now splattered over the sidewalk. Sammy didn't acknowledge his apology, and John knew it wasn't because he was being a brat; he was simply waiting for his brother to fix it. In Sammy's mind, whether consciously or not, he never believed anything was beyond fixing until Dean told him so. Everything was always going to work out perfectly…unless Dean told him otherwise. The complete faith touched John's heart; at least they had gotten that part right.
"Look Kiddo," he tried to compromise. "If you let the ice-cream go, I'll take you and Dean to the park later. Right Dean?" John looked to his oldest son, expecting to hear his affirmation.
Except, Dean wasn't there.
"Dean? Dean!" John called out in slight panic. Sam halted a bit of his crying in lieu of his missing brother. "Dean!"
"I'm back, Sir," a breathless voice came from behind him. After the instant initial relief, John whirled around, ready to tear into his son about disappearing like that, stopping short when he saw what Dean had in his hand, held out with a smile towards his little brother.
"Ice cweam!" Sammy gasped, clapping his hands. Sure enough, in the proffered hand was a cup full of chocolate hazelnut ice-cream with the cone stuck separately on the top. John had absolutely no words for the sight, staring quietly at his eldest son, whose eyes were glued on his brother.
Before taking it, Sammy had to get all his questions out of the way first.
"I thought you was gonna buy Batman, De?" Sammy asked, cocking his head to the side. Dean grinned easily at Sam, but John could see the boy's vibrant green eyes dull slightly at the reminder.
"Well, see," he began to explain, "it's really lucky Sammy. I just realized that they're selling the same Batman comic that I already have, so no need to buy it twice, right?"
John knew for a fact that this was a lie; not for the fact that he knew anything much about Dean's comics, but more for the fact that he knew his son. And he wasn't sure why the gesture on Dean's behalf was equal parts painful and heart-warming.
"Whew, that's lucky!" Sammy exclaimed, widening his eyes in childish wonder. It dulled slightly after a pause. "But, De, that's still your five dollaws," Sammy looked sadly at the ice-cream. "So it's your ice-cweam too."
"Didn't you know?" Dean asked, feigning a shocked expression. "I bought this one for you too! It was supposed to be for after dinner, but at least this way, we're sharing with the ants so that they don't have to be so hot, right Sammy?"
Dear Lord, the things this boy could think of. That slippery silver tongue of his could have him selling cats to mice. John grinned at his eldest as the boy's earlier words wafted over him; You'll spoil him! Dean must have had an idea what John was thinking, as always, because he sent his father a sheepish grin, as if to say, Yeah, well, it's Sammy, Dad! And he was crying. I had no choice.
John chuckled lightly; Dean was as malleable as a roasted marshmallow when it came to his baby brother.
"Oh!" Sammy brightened, smiling brilliantly at his brother, and it was like the sun coming out after a thunderstorm. If Sam's smile was the sun, then Dean's responding grin was definitely the rainbow.
More careful this time, John settled down on a bench, sitting Sammy on his lap as Dean took his seat next to him, body angled slightly so that he was in between Sam and the rest of the world. For the umpteenth time that day, pride in his little boy overwhelmed him.
You'd be so proud of him, Mare, he thought sadly, fighting back the moisture gathering in his eyes. He's exactly you.
"De?" Sammy's voice pulled him back to reality. He instinctively tightened his grip; there would be no fixing that mistake twice. In his little hand, Sam had the spoon gripped tightly as he maneuvered it out of the cup, a heaping scoop of ice-cream balanced on the end. "Ice-cweam!" he giggled, leaning over to feed it to his brother. Dean laughed and accepted the offered treat, in a moment of indulging Sammy, allowing the child to clumsily feed him, not even complaining when a glob left trails on his chin.
"Yeah, Sammy," Dean grinned at his sticky, contented little brother, lifting his arm to wipe his face clean. "Ice-cream."
It was only later that week when he managed to get to a store to buy that comic book for his son. John knew it was the absolute least the boy deserved, and he intended on at least giving him that.
"The new Batman comic!" Dean' eyes lit up like a Fourth of July. He grinned as he scanned the top cover. "Sammy was getting tired of the old comics and making up stories to get him to sleep was only going to last me so long. This'll make things easier. Thanks Dad!"
Hs boy ran off, presumably to show Sam his new bedtime story. John grinned ruefully, looking heavenwards.
"Well, I did say he was like you, Mare," he chuckled under his breath. "Why on Earth was I thinking he would want something trivial and miscellaneous for himself?"
Looking out the window and into the parking lot, where Dean sat showing Sam pictures in the book, John realized.
All Dean ever needed was his family. And all he let himself want, was for Sam to always be happy and never worried or afraid or sad. And if he was?
Then it was Big Brother's job to fix it.
All of a sudden, John wanted to take his boys out.
"Come on, boys, get dressed!" he called outside. "Look alive! We're going for ice-cream."
"Aw, man!" Dean moaned, planting his forehead comically into his palm.
Please review! I love reviews like Baby Sammy loves ice-cream! :-)