Title: Ghosts of Christmas
Author: Ice Cube
Spoilers: For Supernatural
Disclaimer: Right, if I owned them anywhere outside of my dreams, the characters that are forthwith mentioned in this story would be making me a lot of money and very happy…so no, they aren't mine, and I'm a broke college student who has no money, so if you're going to sue, feel free, you won't get anything.
Characters: Sam, Dean
Archives: Feel free; just let me know where so I can find it again.
Summary: Yet another Christmas story…Dean gets a little reminder of why Christmas should be important…even to a hunter…FLUFF alert! You've been warned!
Warnings: To those who think that I am capable of writing a fic that is torture free…I can't, and thus, if you don't want to see h/c, various possible tortures, and other forms of angst, find another story. Also, to those of you looking for slash, when I mean friendship and brotherhood, I take that in the trust you with my life and have no problem telling you about my current crush who is of the opposite sex way. In other words, if you're looking for slash, you won't find it here.
I don't have my stories beta'd, I'm too impatient to wait for someone to proof it after I've written it, so I apologize for any mistakes, and if you email me to tell me that they're there, I'll fix them later. Reviews are always a plus, it's great to know that people are reading my stories and like them, but as I'm a horrible reviewer, I won't hold my breath for them. Flames, however, will be treated with the utmost respect they deserve…they will be ignored completely or poked fun at with friends.
That said, on with the tale…
Dean stared down at his baby brother as the clock next to him revolved the numbers around to show midnight. "Merry Christmas, Sammy. Isn't that what you wanted me to say earlier today? Stupid holiday."
Sam had tried to wish his brother a Merry Christmas before passing out from the concussion he had traded for pissing off whatever poltergeist they were chasing. Now he lay on the motel room bed where Dean had deposited him, the older brother holding a washcloth to the still swelling lump on his forehead.
Dean rolled his eyes at his little brother. Why did he have to remember it was Christmas anyway? The older brother couldn't remember the last time he had celebrated the day, and didn't really want to understand why it was important. He supposed somewhere in his mind that his mother would have loved spending Christmas, and digressed from there to wonder if Sam had spent his Christmases with Jess at Stanford. But Christmas wasn't important to the hunters. It would just take time away from killing every evil son of a bitch they could find, and wasn't that their purpose in life after all?
The man was startled from his thoughts nearly an hour later when there was an insistent knocking on the door. His brow furrowed, looking at the door as if it were possessed, and checked to make sure his gun was still safely in the back of his pants. When the knocking didn't stop, Dean finally lifted his brother's head from his lap and laid it gently on the pillow before going to the door.
With one hand flipping off the safety, Dean unlocked the door and pulled it open with the other. "What the Hell do you…" he trailed off when he saw who was at the door.
He stared openly at the two little boys standing there and gulped, cocking his head to one side and trying to form words. Dean couldn't help it, he pulled his hand from his gun and pinched his other arm; grimacing when it hurt. Again, he tried to form words, as the boys in front of him didn't disappear. Rather, the taller one moved past him to jump up on Sam's bed and take over holding the washcloth that Dean, himself, had discarded.
"Sammy?" Dean looked down at what appeared to be his brother, at eight years old, stared back up at him.
"Uhh…what…how…wha…I…" Dean was at a loss, and turned to look at a twelve-year old version of himself sitting on the bed, staring at him as well. "Okay, what the Hell did I eat or drink…or…what the Hell? This is…"
"Weird?" The pre-teen finished the sentence for him before turning back to the twenty-two year old Sam.
"…Yeah. What's…going on?"
"You need to come with me." Little Sam told him this matter-of-factly. "Right now. Come on, Dean."
"You…need to…come…with me." Little Sam took his hand and tried to pull him out the door.
"I…can't. I need to stay with…" Dean looked at the little boy in front of him. "Sam."
"No kidding." Little Sam pointed at Dean's younger self. "You are. Now come on." With that, he yanked on Dean's arm and pulled him out the door.
Dean found himself stumbling after his little brother obediently, still convinced somehow that the cheeseburger he had managed to wolf down in between taking Sam's pulse and checking his eyes for the fifteenth time must have something to do with this.
"Where are we going?"
"You have to see something. Don't worry, it won't take long. But it's important, and you seem to have forgotten all about it."
"All about what? I know the poltergeist is still out there, but I need…adult you…to help me with that, and he has…you have…a concussion."
"No, silly. That stupid poltergeist can wait, it isn't going anywhere fast. You don't even remember what you've forgotten, do you?"
Dean shook his head. He could still remember the circles his brother was able to talk himself through when he was a little kid, and knew that he couldn't make sense of them then, so he shouldn't be surprised that he couldn't now. "If I've forgotten it, how would I remember that I forgot about it then?"
"Merry Christmas, Sammy. Isn't that what you wanted me to say earlier today? Stupid holiday." The boy's tone was sarcastic. "Isn't that what you said, big brother? You've forgotten how important Christmas is…was…even to you. I'm here to help you remember."
"So what is this? Like A Christmas Carol or something? 'Cuz I'm bound to have some salt around here somewhere." To prove his point, Dean rummaged through his pockets, unsure if he could actually pour the salt packet over his little brother's head anyway.
"Something like that. Only the guy who wrote that messed it up after I visited him. I'm the ghost of Christmas…there were never three of me."
"So wait…you, Samuel Winchester, visited Charles Dickens and showed him Christmas past, present, and future and he wrote about it?"
"No. I, the ghost of Christmas, visited Charles Dickens…as his unborn son, and the man turned his 'dream' into an original idea. Silly man thought he'd come up with it all on his own."
"Not really your 'Sammy'? No. But it tends to make this easier. Now, at least you know the back-story. I'm here to remind you of what you've forgotten, in hopes that I can change your path before it's too late."
"Too late for whom? Me? Or Sam? Or my Dad?"
Dean rolled his eyes. "And the other boy? Me? Who is he?"
"A figment of your imagination, silly. How else was I going to get you to leave Sam?"
Dean glared at the boy in front of him and turned to go back into the motel. He was surprised to see an apartment complex in its place instead. The place looked familiar, but Dean was still willing to let it be because he had lived in so many apartments in the past that they all looked the same.
"Come with me," Sammy grabbed onto his hand again and before Dean knew it, he was standing on a balcony, looking in on a dreary little living room. "Do you remember this place yet?"
Dean kept staring, until he saw yet another eight-year old Sam run past the window. "This is…I lived here."
"With Sam and your father, yes. You were here for what, seven months?"
"Yeah, something like that, we moved out after Sammy got hurt. He got hit by…"
"That's not why we're here, it hasn't happened yet to them. Do you remember what happened this night? Christmas Eve?"
"I remember…getting yelled at, and Sammy crying. Some Christmas you've chosen."
And so, not seeing another option, Dean did.
Eight-year old Sam ran past the window, chasing his brother into the kitchen where Dean had promised would be two steaming cups of hot chocolate, complete with whipped cream and marshmallows. He giggled as the cream tickled his nose, and savored the treat, unaware of his brother's disappearance. The youngest Winchester knew that it was Christmas Eve, but he wasn't excited about it. His father had completely ignored the day, and Sam knew that the man and Dean were going hunting later that night; would probably not be back until late the next day.
The boy sighed before turning to the construction paper on the table and began to draw. A crudely illustrated house with snow all around it and smoke coming from the chimney came first, followed by the boy looking furtively towards the door and then for his brother. When no one else from his family came to scold him for what he was about to do, the boy quickly sketched a sleigh, eight reindeer, and a jolly old man, all standing on the roof. As soon as he was done, the paper was folded as small as it could be and shoved into his pocket. He knew better than to believe in that nonsense, no one could get around the world in one night, make reindeer fly, or care enough to give them all presents in return for some milk and cookies, but still Sam liked the idea that something was good enough in the world for other children to believe in.
"Sammy! Come in here, will ya?" The boy jolted from his chair again, chasing down his older brother. As he entered the living room, his chocolate still in his hand, he gasped and his eyes went wide.
"Dean." The name was a whisper as Sam's face lit up and a grin reached from ear to ear.
"I don't understand. Sammy never believed in Santa Claus. Dad wouldn't lie to him about it." Adult Dean looked down at his guide.
"He didn't, you're right. Just…watch, will ya?"
Behind the young Dean was quite possibly the most pathetic looking Christmas tree ever. It made the Charlie Brown cartoon one look like it belonged in the middle of Central Park. But to Sam, it was the best thing he had ever seen. The young boy put his mug down on the overturned milk carton before wrapping his arms around his brother, burying his face into Dean's shoulder.
Dean lifted the young boy from the ground and plopped him down on the old couch, tickling the boy mercilessly until Sam was wheezing in between each laugh. The grin on his face was almost as big as his younger brother's, and when Dean fell down onto the couch beside him, laughing as well, Sam curled up under his arm and punched him in the side.
"One day I'll be bigger than you and will be able to beat you up for this," the little boy whispered, getting himself trapped in a headlock for his comment.
"You'll always be the little brother, Sammy. And I'll always be able to kick your butt."
Sam just shook his head and stared at the Christmas tree again. His thoughts went to the project he had made in school that was hidden up in their room. He bolted from Dean's side and raced up the stairs, pulling out a small black strongbox and turning the combination. It was the only way he knew to protect his things from his father's Spartan tendencies, and once the lock was open, he reached in, locked the box and sprinted back downstairs.
"Where the Hell did you run off to?"
"Do you want Dad to wash out your mouth again? Look, Dean. We made it in school. Do you think it'll fit on the tree?"
Dean smiled at the construction paper star. The yellow cone and cutout looked exactly like it was: an eight-year old's creativity with a touch of a teacher's help. Dean took the 'star' reverently and placed it on the very top of the tree. "It fits perfectly, Sammy. It looks great."
The two boys sat back down on the couch, Sam back under his brother's arm, and they stared off into space. Neither boy noticed when the other drifted off to their own dreams; and the apartment started to fade away from the adult Dean's view.
Dean stood in the parking lot of the apartment complex. "I don't get what you wanted to show me. That tree was the worst thing I ever saw. I don't even know that you could call it a tree; it looked like a bunch of branches duct taped together. And Dad came home not half an hour later and had a fit. He threw that tree out the damned window, and sent us both to bed with the knowledge that he was disappointed in us. He was so pissed off that he didn't take me on another hunt for three weeks. So what's the point of all of this?"
The ghost in front of him sighed and shook his head. "I didn't show you that part, now did I? Did you not notice the look on your brother's face when he saw that tree? It didn't matter to him that you'd pilfered it from the trash outside the middle school; that it was indeed from their performance of a Charlie Brown Christmas. It didn't matter to him that it wasn't eight feet tall and decked out to the nines like the one at his friend Michael's house. It didn't even matter to him that half an hour later your father came home and freaked out because he was afraid to get either of your hopes up. To Sam, all that mattered was that amidst all the hunting and the moving and the evil that he was learning about, there was still enough good in the world that let you remember what Christmas was supposed to be about. That you sat down and spent time with him, not teaching him about some new self defense move or another evil being." The eight-year old rendition of Dean's brother looked up at the man. "And that was all you cared about once too."
Dean looked down at his feet.
"Do you remember what you did later that night?"
Dean nodded, the normally blunt brother held speechless for once.
"You snuck out that night, didn't you? When you were sure your brother and father were asleep. Do you remember what you did?"
"I went down and found Sammy's star. I couldn't stand him losing it."
"Couldn't stand him losing it? He thought it got lost with that tree, didn't he Dean?"
"Yeah, okay, so I couldn't stand to lose it. I knew that Dad was going to make him stop being a kid within the next couple of years and I didn't want to see that. So I went down and I saved that star; hid it somewhere so that it wouldn't be lost forever. But all Sammy got that Christmas was Dad's belt when he asked Dad to wait another day to hunt; to spend Christmas with us. So why should I want to celebrate that?"
"Your father also gave him a book on werewolves. He also got the book, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, Dean. From you. And if you look hard enough, I'm sure you can find that too. He's still got it today. Not every Christmas was bad, Dean. Do you remember what you got that year?"
"Dad gave me a brand new handgun and some silver bullets. Sammy gave me that picture he'd drawn and some coupon book thing he'd made in school. It was supposed to be things to help his parents, like doing chores and hugs and family time." Dean laughed. "I think I used every one of those things too."
"Even your father celebrated Christmas, or at least he made sure to remember the day and get you both something that he thought would keep you safe, Dean. He didn't ignore the day, just could never spare the time to sit back and treat it traditionally. He was afraid that if he did, something could catch him unaware and take you two away from him. He remembered the way your mother wanted Christmas, but he was too afraid to let his guard down. Don't become your father, Dean. Whatever you're hunting can wait another day on days like this. No matter how many evil things you kill, there's always going to be a million more to take its place."
Dean nodded, and sighed.
"Come on. We have other stops to make tonight."
Dean now stood outside another apartment complex. This one he knew he recognized. It was the one he had pulled his unwilling brother from almost two months before, screaming after his girlfriend. He looked down at the little boy. "I don't think I want to see this."
"You don't have a choice. You may have forgotten what the holiday is about, and that it's important, but your brother never did; he doesn't now. That," he pointed towards the apartment, "what you'll see in there, is why."
Dean nodded sullenly and turned to face his brother and Jess's first Christmas, some three years before.
The scene was postcard worthy, and as Dean watched his brother come in the door, he could see that his younger brother hadn't expected any of it. The light in his eyes matched what Dean had seen when Sam was eight, and the grin was even bigger. He watched as Jess ran up to him and kissed him, pulling a Santa hat from behind her and tugging it down over his shaggy hair. Sam just laughed at it.
The sophomore allowed himself to be tugged into the living room and pushed down next to the tree. He stared up at it in awe, and then glanced down at the presents already under the tree. "Jess, where did you get all this?"
"My parents dropped it off a little while ago and helped me set it up. We've always been big on Christmas and now that I'm out of the dorms, they wanted to make sure it was Christmas-y enough here. Do you have any stuff for the tree with you?"
Sam just shook his head and looked down at his hands. "We never really did Christmas at home either." The sentence was heart wrenching to Dean and he almost missed what came next. "My brother made Christmas worthwhile for me, and that was great. We just never really had anything like this. This is great though, Jess."
"Come on, we have to make cookies for Santa and then we'll go out for dinner. I have to go home for Christmas, but my parents want you to come; that is, if you aren't doing anything else."
Sam smiled and stood up, pulling Jess up after him and into another hug.
Before Dean knew what was happening, he was outside another house, looking in on Jess's family and his brother, singing Christmas carols around a piano, looking every part the storybook, apple pie life that his brother wanted. Dean sighed and looked down at Sammy. "This is what I tore him away from, hunh?"
Sammy sighed. "Forget that for a minute, all right? Just watch."
Sam wandered off from the family and stood by the open window, staring out at the crisply cut lawn and, though he couldn't see it, his brother. The nineteen-year old tried to smile as he felt a small hand wrap around his chest and Jess's head lay against his shoulder.
"Whatcha thinking about, Sam?"
Sam sighed, not turning from where he was staring. "My brother."
"Yeah. I…I just wish…oh I don't know. I just wonder what he's doing. I wish he'd call or something."
"So why don't you call him then?"
"I don't think they want to hear from me. I don't want to bother them, I guess." Sam looked down before turning to Jess. "Never mind, it's Christmas, let's go have some fun, hunh?"
"Sam, talk to me. You don't talk about them ever, and I've never seen you like this. What's the matter? Why don't you go home for the holidays?"
"It's not worth it, Jess. It's a long story that I don't really want to get into right now. Things were said and I don't think they really want me around anyway. But I miss Christmas with my brother. That's all."
Dean watched as the scene again faded away. He looked down at the eight-year old version of his brother and had to resist some unknown urge to scoop the ghost up in a hug. "We just thought he never wanted anything to do with us again. God. I wouldn't have cut off from him like that if I would've known."
"But you see, Sam didn't need Jess's kind of Christmas. He didn't need the 'apple pie' life at the holidays, didn't really care about the tree or the presents or songs. That's not all the holiday is to him, not what it really means. It's just…family; being together and for one day just being happy about that. Don't you see?"
Dean started to realize that Sam telling him Merry Christmas wasn't him trying to retain some kind of separation from their life, that he wasn't trying to ignore the hunt they were on.
"Come on, Dean."
Okay, so blame this on the fact that I just got back from seeing A Christmas Carol and one of the little boys in the play reminded me of Sam...the boy playing the ghost of Christmas Present actually...and so this came about...but now I'm not sure what to do...I could go on and show Dean the present and 'what may come' or I could just have him have learned his lesson and go back to Sam...either way, the ending is going to be the same, but I'm not sure if I want to drag out the middle or not, so you have to let me know...I'll go with what the majority decides...