Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural in any way, shape, or form.
Author's Note: Just a one shot, written about six months after Mary's death. John tries to take his boys grocery shopping, and finds that he still has some things to learn about being a Dad.
Warnings: Pretty darn clean, if I do say so myself.
It was three days after Sam's first birthday that John took his sons, stuck them in the front seat of his truck, and drove. He only pulled over once, when Dean realized that the seatbelt of Sam's car seat wasn't properly fastened and his baby brother was being strangled. John fixed the seatbelt and muttered something about improv not working for him.
"Daddy, where are we going?" Dean asked his Dad as he tried to peer over the dashboard.
"We are going grocery shopping," John said, his voice definite for the first time in months. "I'm pretty tired of sitting around all the time, how about you, kiddo?"
Dean nodded. "I think Sam is too."
John smiled and flicked on the radio. He hummed along tunelessly to a song he did not know until he caught site of a grocery store. He turned quickly, accidentally cutting off another driver who honked the horn at him. "Yeah yeah, I know, I'm a bad person, I suck," he sighed as he pulled into the parking lot. He reached across the seat and unstrapped Sam from the car seat before pushing open the front door. Dean slid out of the truck just like he used to before his mom had died and landed gracefully on the pavement, just like he used to. Except for that one time that he had tripped and fallen, and he knee started to bleed. But he remembered how his mom had hugged him until he stopped crying and put a big band-aid over his knee. "That wasn't so bad, was it?" she had said.
"So Dean," John said, looking down at his five-year-old son, "you went grocery shopping with your mother, right? What did you guys do first?"
Dean thought. That had been a long time ago. "We got a cart?" he guessed.
"Cart, right…" John said. Outside of the store there were several discarded shopping carts. He plopped Sam into the child seat of one and pushed it through the doors, Dean trailing behind him.
"What do we need at home, Dean-o?" John asked as he pushed the cart up and down aisles.
"Sugar Pops?" Dean asked eagerly, eying a display of cereal. He was ecstatic when his Dad nodded and Dean reached for a box. Being the intelligent soul he was, he grabbed the box at the very bottom of the pyramid of boxes, causing the entire triangular stack of Sugar Pops cereal to collapse.
"Oops," he said as he held his box of cereal guiltily.
Sam, however, found it entirely too amusing. He clapped his chubby baby hands and laughed at the mess. Several workers from the store rolled their eyes as John apologized profusely for the mess. Meanwhile, he didn't notice as Sam started to lick the cart, much to Dean's amusement. By the time he had turned around, the front bar of the car was wet with the baby's drool. "Oh jeez, Sam!" he groaned as he placed his hands on the front bar. He tried to rub it dry with the corner of his jacket to no avail.
"You know fifty different types of bacteria exist on these carts?" a zit-faced teenager who was re-stacking sugar pops informed him.
"Thanks for the fun fact," John grimaced as they pressed onward. He then turned to Dean. "From now on, Dean, let me pick up the food." He was determined to make this an enjoyable day for his family.
Dean followed his dad into the frozen food aisle. As John filled the cart with frozen mashed potatoes, he didn't see Dean pull open the heavy freezer door to the ice pop and ice cream section. He didn't see as the boy reached in eagerly for the last box of fudge-cicles. They were on a high shelf, pushed a little bit too far to the back, just out of reach. Why was everything worth have just out of a five-year-old's grasp?
He knelt on one of the cold shelves, reaching for the box. He kept the door partially opened with one hand and tapped at the box ever closer to him with the other. After several cold minutes of tapping, the box was in his proximity. He reached and grabbed his prize…
…with both hands.
Clunk. The door closed on him.
John had moved further up the aisle with Sam. "Oh look Sammy, these look good," he said as he put boxes into the cart. "Anything you want, Dean?
"Dean…?" He turned around. He looked up and down the aisle.
Where was Dean?
"Dean?" he said. Don't panic, he reassured himself, he's probably just in another aisle. "Dean?"
He pushed the cart up the aisle a bit and then left it there for a moment as he peered outside of the aisle, to the left and to the right. "Dean?"
No Dean. Anywhere.
"God no…" he whispered. He hurried back to the cart and pulled Sam out of the front seat. Balancing the baby in one arm, he hurried around the store. "Dean!" he yelled, concern turning into panic. "Where are you?"
It wasn't long before Sam burst into noisy tears. "Sammy, shh…" But the child only cried louder, flailing his arms – or was he pointing?
"What, Sammy? Where's Dean?" Was he crazy? How on Earth would the baby know any better than he did?
He plopped Sam down on the ground, nonetheless. Sam pushed himself up off the dirty floor with 329 forms of bacteria on it (John was pretty sure no other sane parent would put their child on that floor) and toddled along, his father following closely. He only managed a few small steps before he fell, but crawling was always quicker anyway, albeit dirtier. He turned up the frozen food aisle and sat down next to their cart.
"That's great you found the cart, son, but –" All of a sudden, he saw it – Dean pressed up against the frozen foods door, trapped inside. He yanked the door open and caught his tearful, shivering son.
"C-c-c-c-old!" he whimpered, clinging to his father.
"Dean, are you okay?" he asked, arms still wrapped around his son.
Dean was still crying too hard to answer. Not wanting to be left out of the "fun", Sam joined in on the noisy tears.
Dean pulled his face away from his father's chest long enough to regard his baby brother with a small amount of scorn. "What do you have to be crying about?"
"Don't, Dean. Sam was the one who dragged me back over here – hell, I was on the other side of the store!"
Sam smiled a little bit at Sam, whose tears were receding once he noticed his brother had stopped crying. "Really, Sammy?"
John reached down to pick Sam up. As he placed the boy back into the child seat of the cart, he said, "Why don't we just get back in the car and take a drive?"
"Can I at least get the Sugar Pops?" Dean pleaded.
Half an hour later, both Dean and Sam had dozed off, a half eaten box of Sugar Pops sitting between them. John looked over at them as he drove aimlessly. "Oh Mary," he whispered, "if you only could see them now…"
Suddenly, he heard a song he knew on the radio. He turned it up the slightest bit, not loud enough to wake the boys but loud enough that he would sing along:
"Carry on my wayward son…"
No more tuneless humming for him. From now on, he decided, he'd stick to singing only the songs he knew.