Title: Peanut Butter Hero

Rating: I'm going to say a light PG, only because there's character blood.

Category: General vignette

Disclaimer: The following characters and situations are used without permission of the creators, owners, and further affiliates of the Warner Bros television show, Supernatural, to whom they rightly belong. I claim only what is mine, and I make no money off what is theirs.

There's the faint sound of children laughing somewhere, squealing, happy, rushing into Mommy's arms children, but not here. Not here where Sam sits, alone and forgotten on the swing sets with the slide and merry-go-round watching him a bit curiously. He pushes himself back and forth on the swing, yellowed sneaker wearing feet skimming the crunchy gravel below, and above him the fat, rusting chains squeak in protest with his every move. His school bag, a little too small and a little too old, is strapped to his back, and he holds his red plastic lunchbox in a fist that's sticky with construction paper paste and smeared with number two pencil lead.

Dean's late, and Dean's never late, not big brother, hero Dean; Sam is worried.

To check the time, he scrunches back his denim coat sleeve, the coat he outgrew last fall and now it's spring, but Dad doesn't have the money and Dean hasn't outgrown his to pass down, so Sam's coat is too small, and he doesn't complain. Sam's watch, a simple black one for Christmas says that Dean's twenty minutes late, ten minutes short of a half an hour late. They always meet on the playground together after school when Dean leaves his classes and Sam leaves his, and they walk home together because that's just what they do, always. Sometimes Dean's a few minutes late because there's assignments to be completed while he was out on a hunt with Dad, killing things and savings lives instead of learning his multiplication tables and the names of all the presidents, but twenty minutes late like this? No, never this late.

Still, Sam tries to wait patiently instead of worrying. Dean would never hurt Sam, never forget him in any way because Dean loves Sam, and he protects him and Sam loves Dean because Dean's his hero. Dean wouldn't be late unless there was a good reason. But Sam's the best reason Dean has for doing anything, and they both know that. Even if Sam's childish thinking doesn't quite know this in clear words yet, he knows that if there's something keeping Dean from him, he has a right to be worried.

So Sam hums a song he learned in music class today, a song about Miss Mary Mack all dressed in black and elephants who jumped over the fence so high they touched the sky. The song doesn't make sense and that's okay. It doesn't have to make sense now because all Sam has to do is ask Dean, and Dean will understand it. Then he'll explain it to Sam like he explains the guns they use or the Latin phrases they say. It's enough just to sing the song now so Sam remembers to ask Dean what it all means.

Ten minutes pass, and there's still no Dean. Sam pushes himself with chubby little hands away from the swing set, with its black, curved, cracking rubber seat swing, and he walks to the school to go inside and find his brother. His walk is a bit clumsy, shoes too big, passed down from Dean last month, and Sam still hasn't quite figured out how to tie them tight enough, so until he learns to tie, his floppy laces are dragging in the dirt and getting caught under his heels.

The playground's quiet now. No more other children, just him, just Sam now, alone.

When he reaches the school's doors, he hears a sniffling sound like someone has a bad cold. He thinks he might have a clean tissue if that person wants to use it because having a runny nose and no tissue is a really bad thing, he knows. Sam doesn't forget about Dean, but he doesn't want to leave this other kid without something to blow his nose on either as Sam knows how to share. His teacher last year taught them how to share because Sam didn't have crayons and Sam's partner did, so Sam's partner shared the crayons with him until Dad bought Sam a box too. And Dean's always sharing with him, too, and Sam thinks of everything Dean's ever shared, and boy, that's a long list because Sam's pretty sure Dean's shared everything. So, since Dean's always sharing with him, Sam figures he can share with somebody else too. Dean would be proud of him for sharing after all.

Sam rounds the corner of the brick building, all red bricks so clean except for the ones at the bottom where the dandelions press their yellow faces against it, and he sees Dean, sitting in the dirt, in the grass. Sam, a little startled and relieved all at once, calls his brother's name and hurries towards him, trying not to trip over his fraying shoelaces when he runs.

Dean looks up quickly, sort of scared, and he's been crying because his eyes are all watery, puffy and red like that time he slammed his fingers in the truck door and cried until Dad told him to stop. He mutters something under his breath, something Sam doesn't catch because Dean's talking to his knees, but Dean's not quick enough to wipe the blood off his hands before Sam catches that much. He crouches down next to Dean, big brother hero, amazing person Dean, and he asks him what's wrong.

Dean's old enough to be temporarily embarrassed, but young enough to at least share his pain now, until the years pass and he's too proud and too old to let Sammy comfort him, but now he does. "Bunch of kids," he says, wiping at his nose, blood caked, blue bruised, dirt crusted nose.

"Did you beat them up?"

"Not really. They said you—me—were freaks."

Sam's heard the word "freaks" before, and he knows that he and Dean are different from other kids, only he doesn't know why or how, only that if he stays quiet, the kids don't bother him as much when he talks and raises his hand in class. Maybe it's because Dean and he don't have a mommy like other kids or maybe it's because they're missing from school a lot and their dad doesn't go to conferences and school plays like other parents. Sam doesn't know what to tell Dean now to make things right, and he wants to make Dean feel better because Dean always fixes everything for him. Like that time when Sam fell off his bike and scraped his knee, tore up his pants that used to be Dean's, and Dean helped Sam to his feet and whispered "Ssh, ssh" until Sam stopped crying. Because Sam wants to make Dean feel better now, he pulls out his lunchbox, red plastic with once colorful stickers all white and peeling lunchbox. He's eaten most of his food because he's usually hungry and there are never enough good things to eat in the house for them, but there's still half a peanut butter sandwich left today. He was going to save it for the walk home, but Dean, dirty, hurt, hero Dean needs it more than him right now.

"Here," Sam says, holding out the plastic wrapped, peanut butter with strawberry jelly on white bread sandwich he made this morning, "you can have this. It's only half, but—"

"No, it's yours."

"But I want you to have it."

"Only if we split it."

So Sam hands Dean the sandwich because Dean's better at halving things, and he never makes one piece bigger for himself and leaves Sam with the smaller piece, and Dean splits that half a sandwich. They eat in silence until Sam starts singing the new song for Dean about those elephants jumping over the fence just so Dean will smile at how silly the song is too. It takes awhile until they finish eating, and Sam's gone through the song twice before Dean wipes his hands, gravel dirty, jelly sticky, bloody smeary hands on his jeans and ruffles Sam's fine, silky, baby-yet, hair. He rises to his feet in his tearing blue denims and army style coat, and he brushes off the seat of his pants, grass-stained green and dirt clumped brown. He offers Sam his hand and pulls his younger brother to his feet.

"C'mon, Sammy, let's go home," he says, and smiles, and Sam smiles back at his hero. Sam knew that Dean hadn't forgotten him, because Sam's the best reason Dean has for anything in his life, and Dean's always going to be the hero for everything Sam does. Dean doesn't forget him, and Sam always looks up to Dean. They're brothers, Sam knows, and that's good enough for him. That's all he needs to know, and all he'll ever want to know.