A/N: All right, to start with, I just want to throw out a dedication. This story is dedicated to Ridley C. James who is among one of the greatest Supernatural writers. I'd go as far as to say she is arguably the best pre-series writer. So, Ridley C. James: This one's for you.
So, this is just a one shot piece of fluff…since young Sammy is just so adorable!
Disclaimer: If I owned it, I'd not be a waitress. Enough said.
Cleaning the tables in the small diner had always been a favourite job of Claire's, for the simple fact that more often than not, it was easy. Unless there had been some tomato sauce allowed pool and dry from where the previous occupants had deemed it necessary to make her usually simple job just that little bit more difficult.
This was just what Claire was doing as she felt a small tug on her apron. Getting a slight surprise, Claire jumped as she straightened herself up and looked down at the source of the small disturbance. She was startled to find herself looking into the liquid brown, puppy dog eyes of what was a six or seven year old. She had seen the small child enter with what looked like an older sibling, and had watched as her fellow waitress, Ellie, had seen to the two youngsters.
"How old do you think those kids are?" Ellie had asked after taking the boys their meals.
"Don't know" Claire answered with a slight shrug of her tired shoulders, her cleaning rag accompanying her hand to her hips as she watched the two. "Maybe six and ten?" Her answer had been unsure then, and Ellie nodded her head in shared acknowledgement of her colleague's uncertainty.
"What concerns me more is where the parents are," Claire continued.
"Want me to ask?" Ellie was 5 years Claire's junior and had started the job just a few months previous. Claire shook her head in response. "Just keep an eye on them." With something of a sad nod, Ellie drifted off casually to run out more meals, but both she and Clair hovered near the table occupied by the endearing children as often as they could.
Now, looking into the younger's eyes, Claire felt a great deal of pity for the expression carried on the youthful features. She looked around the Diner, finding it mostly devoid of life now after the afternoon rush had died down. Claire crouched down so that she was eye level with the young boy. "Hey little man" She ventured gently "What can I do for you?" The child shied away, dropping his gaze to his perfectly knotted shoes. Finding her approach needed a little work; Claire gave the kid a smile, even though he couldn't see it, and lowered her tone. "My name is Claire," she told him in a gentle whisper. "What's your name?" She had dealt with lost children many times in her years at the Diner and often, getting a small amount of familiarity was the way to gain a small mount of trust.
The deep brown eyes rose to meet hers and the small boy finally gave her an answer in a voice that seemed smaller than it should have been. "Sam" it squeaked out. Claire widened her smile. "Well Sam, what can I do for you?"
Little Sam seemed almost too embarrassed to voice his woes. "I can't get past level one," he told her, leaning a little closer and flicking his gaze around the diner as though terrified someone would hear his admission of failure. "Dean says that he wants me to get to level three before he comes back. But level one is so hard." Tears had begun to shine in the child's eyes and Claire felt her heart break beneath that stare. She placed her cleaning cloth on the table and stood to her full height. "Which game are you talking about?" She asked gently. The Diner housed a couple of arcade style games in the corner where children could play without bothering their parents. The machines also helped drag in a bit of revenue for the diner and that was always a bonus in the manager's eyes. Sam pointed to a rather violent street fighting game and Claire mental hit herself, as she should have guessed by the chair that was placed in front of the controls. Sam lead the way to the game then climbed up on the chair and pointed to the screen.
"Dean says it's easy and that even babies can make it past the first level" the small boy pouted, as though Claire should know who Dean was. Claire watched as he manoeuvred the character around the screen, taking hit after hit from the opponent until the character finally succumbed and admitted defeat. "See?" Sam asked as he turned his gaze back to Claire who had been watching the screen the whole time. She had seen other children, mostly boys; play this game over the years and nodded once. "You're not using the jump to its full extent" She told him, forgetting for the moment he might not know what 'extent' would mean. Sam seemed to be older and wiser than his years but still giving off a lost puppy type of charm. "Here, let me show you" She took the control as the game started up once again. Claire wasn't the best at the game, but she still managed to get a few good hits in and eventually win the round. Sam stared at the screen then turned his gaze to stare at the diminutive waitress who had just beaten Jungo the ice beast. "Now you give it a try" Claire relinquished her grip on the controls and watched as Sam eventually took down the fire master.
The little boy clapped his hands in delight of his achievement and beamed at Claire with a mix of adoration and thankful accomplishment. Claire pat the child on the back briefly. "Well done Sam" She told him with as genuine a tone as she could manage. She glanced around at the now empty Diner and frowned. "Sam, where is the boy that you came in here with?" Sam sniffed once; his attention reverted to the screen as he picked the next opponent for round 2.
"Dean went to the bathroom after he told me to beat level 3" Sam said matter-of-factly. This fact worried Claire as she had been with Sam for a good 20 minutes and the whole while, Dean had not come back. With a quick glance back to Sam, Claire strode to the kitchen to ask Glenn, the chef, if he could check the men's room for a 10 year old. Cynical at first, Glenn finally relented and muttering a colourful array of phrases, made his way to the bathroom.
The door was opened just as Glenn reached it, causing Glenn to give Claire the dirtiest look he could manage as he stalked back to his domain. Claire breathed a sigh of relief as she saw who had opened the door. Sam's Dean shot her a look as he crossed the diner with his hand held to the side of his head. Claire found herself involuntarily following the boy's movements as he reached Sam and although she couldn't hear the conversation, she saw Dean pat Sam on the back in much the same way she had done only minutes ago. Sam turned on his chair to point Claire out and she hurried to busy herself on a dirty table nearby. Dean still covered one side of his head as he turned to acknowledge the waitress.
Claire went back to cleaning the table, as it wasn't until she felt a tug at her apron once more that she was pulled from her task. It was Sam once again, wearing a far more distressed look on his face. "What's wrong sweetheart?" Clair ventured as she lowered herself once more to the boy's level. "It's my brother. He's hurt" Sam got out before the brother in question interrupted the two. "It's nothing," he offered roughly. His hand now removed from his wound, revealing what looked like a rather nasty bump that had drawn blood.
Claire stood immediately and her mothering instinct took over as he gently ran her gaze over the wound the boy had sustained. She called Ellie over and asked for the first aid kit, nodding in the direction of the injured brother. Ellie understood immediately and rushed off to fetch the kit. Claire steered the reluctant brother to a booth and made his sit as Ellie delivered the first aid kit. She whispered something o Ellie, who grinned and rushed back to the kitchen.
"What were you doing in that bathroom?" Claire asked as she knelt in front of the older boy, cleaning his wound with extra care not to hurt him more than was necessary.
"I guess I must have just slipped on some water or something," The boy answered curtly. Sam who sat on the other side of the booth, leaning over the table to watch what Claire did. "Nu uh." He answered indignantly "You never fall" he told his brother. Dean glanced over at his brother without moving his head. "Well, in this case I did" he told his brother firmly.
"No you didn't" Sam said, fully intent on getting his brother to change him mind.
"Sam," the older cautioned firmly.
It was that time Ellie came out with two vanilla ice creams, both equipped with a chocolate frog and an abundance of jelly snakes. Sam all but completely forgot his argument with Dean as he dug delightedly into the treat. Claire finished up her patch job on Dean by carefully placing a thick bandaid over the offending injury. Dean looked down at the ice cream with uncertainty. "We can't afford this," he told Claire and Ellie. His gaze flicked to Sam who was already halfway through the dessert and winced.
"Don't worry about it" Claire replied as she began placing items back into the kit. "Consider it mine and Ellie's treat" As she stood, she gave Dean a smile, which was returned before the older boy dove into his treat, glad for the luxury he was rarely afforded after so long sacrificing his own wants for Sammy's.
Claire continued cleaning the tables as the two boys ate. She heard joyful laughter as Dean tricked Sam into looking outside in order to steal one of the few remaining jelly snakes that still adorned Sam's ice cream. "Hey!" Came the outraged shout of a six year old that had mentally checked his snake count after each bite. Dean grinned through a mouthful of snake as he told his little brother "Finder's keepers"
"But you didn't find it! You stole it!"
"It's the same thing"
"Look over there! Birds!"
It was a pathetic attempt, but Claire watched as the older turned his head for just long enough for his baby brother to steal back a snake.
As Claire watched the two boys leave the Diner a few short minutes later, she found herself hoping to see them again, but realising she probably never would.
A/N: Ouch. What a terrible ending. Sorry for the poor quality guys…but I just wanted to write this idea out. My sympathies for your pain as you read this. To remedy it, I suggest I trip over to see Ridley C. James.