Author's Notes: Second stab at Supernatural. These boys are just so much fun, I wish I owned them. Consider that your disclaimer. Reviews make me smile.
"Sam, we've already had this discussion…"
"No, we haven't. I ask you how mom died, and you tell me that this isn't the right time or place to tell me. You want me to be older. You don't want me to be sad. You make up excuses, Dean, and now I want the truth. Tell me."
Dean sighed heavily, though it wasn't enough to dispel the shadows from his heart. He looked at Sam, his little brother, and read the determination in those dark, expressive eyes. Eyes that were way too young by Dean's standards, but eyes that deserved the truth nonetheless. He sighed, glancing at the bedroom doorway, then looked back to Sam. "Those weren't just excuses, Sammy. You're my baby brother, ya know? I don't want to see you cry."
"I don't cry, Dean," Sam shot back, unwavering in his perseverance. "If you cared about me, you'd tell me."
Dean fought back his anger. Sam was still young, and his words were careless. Grace would come in time. "I think Dad should be the one-"
"No!" Sam retorted, tossing his notebook to the edge of the twin mattress he was sitting on. "Dad's always gone. Aunt Tina says he might not be back for another week. He won't even talk about the good times with mom- he'll never tell me how she died."
"He told you about the fire."
Sam looked at Dean with those dark eyes and Dean actually felt stupid for trying to reinforce Dad's… obfuscation. Sam crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against the headboard. "There's more to it than that. Every one of our relatives has a different story. You all say it was faulty wiring, but nobody agrees on where the fire started, and why Mom couldn't escape."
Dean hid his reaction. Curse old people and their deficient memories.
He sighed, running his hand through his close-cut hair. He spared a final look at the baseball cards spread out before him, then pushed them all into a pile at the foot of his bed. "Okay," he said tiredly, sitting back against the wall in a mirror of Sam's posture on the opposite side of the bedroom.
"Yeah, okay," Dean repeated, feeling something hard and cold forming in his gut already. "Dad's gonna be really mad at me, but you're right. I think you should know."
Sam had the decency to look a little surprised, but it was quickly replaced with smug satisfaction. "Good. I'm listening."
Anger flared within Dean. "This isn't some bedtime story, Sam! Don't act like you just won some kind of argument. If I didn't want you to know, then I wouldn't be telling you, understand? This is Mom we're talking about."
Sam flinched a little- Dean didn't get angry at his little brother very often- and slumped his shoulders. Now looking more the part, he said softly, "Sorry."
Dean waved a hand in dismissal. "This is serious, buddy. Don't go telling this to anyone, got it? The only ones who know this are me and Dad."
"Why'd Dad tell you and not me?"
"I'm older. I remembered more. He's just trying to protect you, Sam. That's what dads do."
Sam's silence told Dean that while he wasn't happy about that fact, Sam had accepted it.
Dean thought about what he was going to say quickly, his mind leaping from violent details to paranormal beliefs as if they were stones in a stream. Dad would kill him for this, for turning the last innocent Winchester into a demon hunter with an agenda such as themselves. But didn't Sam deserve the truth? She was his mother too, after all. How long would Sam have to go through life, oblivious to the supernatural forces that could kill him? Shouldn't he have a fighting chance?
"Okay," Dean began quietly, looking once more to see if an aunt or uncle were traveling down the hall. When he determined the coast was clear, he continued. "Dad didn't lie about a fire, Sammy. That's how Mom died."
Sam blinked, his dark eyes shining brightly under a mop of unruly brown hair. He kept silent.
"But the fire wasn't because of any faulty wiring." Dean took a breath, trying to quell the burning tears, the tightness in his throat, and the butterflies in his stomach. He stared at the red race cars decorating the comforter beneath him until he was able to speak again. Then he looked up, steeled his nerves, and blurted, "It was a demon."
Sam's eyebrows furrowed when Dean said no more. "A demon."
"We're not sure, but Dad has been trying really hard to hunt down any kind of legend involving fire. He's managed to put a lot of spirits to rest in the process. We-"
Sam rolled his eyes. "You said you were gonna tell me the truth, Dean," he said curtly. "I-"
"No, Sam, don't you dare. This is the truth, I swear to you. You think this is easy for me? You think I like imagining Mom stuck to the ceiling of your room, being burned alive!"
Sam's jaw dropped and Dean stumbled to a halt. "Sammy…" Maybe he won't accept it.
"How'd she get on the ceiling, Dean?"
Dean rubbed his face. Of course Sam could accept it, he had grown up around all sorts of urban legends and ghost stories. Except until now, that's all they had been, was stories. Now Sam knew the truth behind their father's fixation.
Dean was so going to get it.
"We don't know. The demon pins its victims to the ceiling, face down." Dean closed his eyes. She was over your crib, Sam, don't you remember?
Sam's eyes were glistening now, and his voice was quieter than normal. "You're being serious, Dean? Really, really serious?"
"Yeah, buddy. I am."
Sam stayed quiet after that. Dean watched his little brother's nose turn red, watched as Sam tried to disguise his sniffles and the quick swipes at his tears. He should say something, do something to make the kid across the room not feel so sad and lonely.
Dean got up, feet hitting the plush carpet with a soft thud, and went across the bedroom to Sam. "I'm sorry," he said, sitting on the bed next to Sam so that they were just barely touching. "I shouldn't have told you, you're too young…"
"No," Sam snapped brokenly, wiping hard at his eyes and lifting his reddened gaze to Dean. "I wanted you to tell me. I wanted to know."
How does a kid really know what they want? Even one as mature as Sam?
"You know I'm here for you, right?" Dean said, relaxing a little so that his leg rested solidly against Sam's. "You can talk to me. About anything. Anytime."
Sam stared straight ahead. "Where is Dad now? Is he out hunting that thing?"
Boy, the kid was quick.
"He never stops hunting it, Sam. Sometimes he just gets… sidetracked."
"With what?" The question was timid- Sam was learning his lesson.
Maybe sometimes, he really didn't want to know.
"Other ghosts. Other angry spirits. Demons."
"You go with him sometimes, don't you?"
Sam looked at him with such hope, and Dean hated himself for dousing it. "Yeah, I do."
Dean looked at the comforter, not wishing to imagine his little brother up against the dark creatures just yet. Yes, he wanted to say, yes, you will because Dad wants you to. Dad needs all the help he can get, and don't we owe Mom that much?
"It's up to you," he said instead, because ultimately, it was.
Sam looked like he was still unsure as to whether this was just another of Dean's pranks, or the real deal. And really, who could blame him? This conversation would probably haunt the kid for the rest of his life.
When Sam looked up, Dean knew he had changed his little brother forever. There was a flame in those big dark eyes, and it burned for the vengeance of a parent he had never known. Dean was scared. What had he done? While Sam had never been the happiest, most ordinary kid, he had also never experienced true hatred. For a moment, Dean wanted to take it all back. He wanted his quiet, loving, forgiving, idolizing little brother back.
But he was too late.
"I want to go hunting with you."