"Mr. Winchester. Dean. Buddy."
The kid twitched slightly at the last word but didn't stop playing with the clicking balls demonstrating Newton's First Law or the conservation of momentum or some other scientific load of shit that he kept on his desk to entertain visitors. But Dean Winchester was not a visitor. Oh no. Not by any means. Dean Winchester was in this office just as much as Principal Larry Schaffer was in this office. And it was his frickin' office. God, this little demon was going make Larry pick up the bottle again. He had been sober for a good two years, seven months, and fourteen days. Larry had pulled out his calendar to count because of Dean Winchester.
"Dean," Larry continued, despite the lack of eye contact he was getting from this seven-year-old delinquent. "Is it true you said, 'There's no such thing as Santa Claus, asshole.' to Ashley Kinsley?"
The kid finally looked up, his eyes defiant, and Larry Schaffer braced himself for some smartass retort. "Hearsay," Dean voiced, shrugging his small shoulders almost apologetically, as if he was actually sorry the principal had no case against him.
"Mr. Winchester, this is not a democracy, this is an elementary school."
Larry was getting better at this. Dean's clever responses had shocked him at first, leaving him speechless and giving the kid the opportunity to work his way out of the predicament. He was not used to this level of intelligent deviancy in third graders. Larry had gotten faster, now though; he was sharper. "What I say goes." Eat that, you little ass-wipe, he thought, unable to keep a smirk from creeping to his lips.
"Yeah?" Dean asked, his face blank. Larry Schaffer's stomach fell a little as he recognized that look. That was the look, that blank look which Larry had once very mistakenly misinterpreted as a triumph for himself, meant that Dean Winchester had one final move to make, an ace in the hole, a trump card. "It's my word against Ashley's, right? Ashley told me that I was…" Dean paused for a moment to paw at his eyes, as if he were trying to keep the tears back. "She told me that I was… stupid." The kid jutted out his lower lip and looked away, as if this admission was the most painful thing he had ever had to do.
Larry Schaffer wanted to smack him across the face, but had the inner fortitude to restrain himself. Larry had never been a violent person, but this kid possibly had the power to send him off to anger management along with those AA meetings he could foresee in his future. The school's counselor had told Larry that Dean Winchester's secret fear was that he was not intelligent enough. That's why he didn't do his homework, refused to study for tests, and just didn't show up for school on some days. Dean didn't want to work hard only to fail, as he must have done sometime in the past, and with a younger brother already showing remarkable intelligence at such a young age, well… the tough guy routine was all a façade to mask his intellectual insecurities. If he believed in himself and started working harder, he'd be a normal, happy little kid.
Larry Schaffer knew that was all a load of shit. A steaming, heaping, royal pile of shit. Dean Winchester was one of the sharpest little brats to ever walk through these school doors, and God only knew why he was doing so poorly in school. He was probably just lazy. However, Larry had been instructed that if Dean ever lashed out because of his academic insecurity, he was not to be punished. Damn him.
"Alright, Dean" Larry said, leaning back in his chair, trying to appear more benevolent. "You and I both know that you're far from stupid."
"I just don't know, sir," Dean whimpered, his eyes all big and round
Was that a tear in his left eye? Larry Schaffer almost jumped out of his chair. Yes, it was a frickin' glistening tear in Dean Winchester's eye. Oh, good Lord. Larry knew that the Winchester family moved often, and he could only hope that time was rolling around again very soon. "If you'd only apply yourself to your schoolwork, you'd do fine. If you refuse to apply yourself, well, you might be repeating third grade."
"I'll work hard, sir. I swear I'll work so much harder!"
That little bastard. Principle Larry Schaffer told Dean Winchester the kinder equivalent of "Get the hell outta my office" and glared at the door after Dean closed it behind him. Larry opened the middle drawer on his desk and removed the secret compartment to take out a lovely flask filled to the brim with vodka. What the hell? It was only two days until Christmas. He took a nice, long swig.
Principle Schaffer had gotten it wrong. Dean had whispered to Ashley Kinsley, "There's no such thing as Santa Claus." He had then paused, thought about it, and tacked "Asshole." on. It had been its own sentence, really. Dean thought it added a bit of spice to the holiday sentiment. He had truly said, "There's no such thing as Santa Claus. Asshole."
It hadn't really given him much pleasure, watching Ashley's face crumple as she thought back to all of the suspicious events circulating her belief in Santa, as she realized that Dean's words were true. It hadn't made him happy, but Ashley hadn't given him any choice. She had been looking out the window while the kindergarteners were having a playground break. Her eyes had lit upon Sammy, who was sitting all by himself, trying to read a book. Dean took a lot of pride out of the fact that four-year-old Sammy could already read. Those other fools in preschool only liked to look at the pictures. But Ashley hadn't been impressed. She had come over to Dean and whispered that it was so sad that his brother looked retarded.
Dean had simply snapped and whispered back the truth about Santa Claus. Nobody messed with Sammy.
"Dean!" Sammy pulled away from his kindergarten teacher who was apparently trying to help him get his coat buttoned up and flew toward Dean. "Dean, I missed you today!"
A few boys from his class were walking by, so Dean had to ward off Sam's attack. "Hey! Watch it, Sammy!" The kids passed, and Dean started walking in a homeward direction, checking in his peripheral vision to make sure his little brother was in tow.
"No, really," Sam insisted, his brown eyes very earnest, hurrying to catch up with his big brother and nearly tripping on a flapping shoelace. "Kids were making fun of my hair. If you had been there, you could of beaten 'em up!"
He would have done it, too. He had tried to explain to Dad how bad it was for Sam, all of this moving around. He got picked on pretty often because he was new and because he was smarter than a lot of the kids in Dean's grade even. But they kept on moving, and it became Dean's job to make sure that Sammy wasn't pounded on too badly. "Watch out for Sammy." That had become his priority. "I can cut your hair when we get home," Dean offered, looking down at Sammy's perilous shoelace. He knelt down to turn that sucker into two bunny ears that could no longer cause his little brother to go sprawling across the asphalt.
They walked in silence for a few minutes. Dean realized that he wouldn't be able to do anything about Sam's hair until after Christmas. He had a lot to do in a short period of three days. Yeah, Sam's goofy hair would have to wait, but they didn't have to go back to school for a while, so it was all good. Dean grabbed Sam's hand when they got to the street and made sure to look both ways a couple of times before crossing.
Alright. So, he had to go shopping, figure out what he could make for dinner, put up decorations, and…
"Mosquitoes have forty-seven teeth."
"Mosquitoes." Sam looked at Dean quite matter-of-factly. "They have forty-seven teeth."
Dean wasn't even sure how he was supposed to reply to this. He decided to do nothing except keep on walking.
"And a baby kangaroo? That's called a joey."
"Fantastic. I can die happy knowing that."
"Welcome!" Sam exclaimed brightly. "And, Dean? A bumblebee? It has five eyes."
Just because Dean didn't allow other people to beat up Sam didn't mean that he couldn't. But he decided against it. It was too close to Christmas, and he had far too much to do.
Damn it. Damn it all to hell. This Impala had been through a lot. Its tires had been bitten by vampires, its left side had been mauled by a wendigo, and it had even driven itself across the entire state of Texas that one time when it was possessed. It had been through all of that and more, and now it wouldn't start. He'd changed the oil, checked the engine, and done all of the routine maintenance before leaving. Why the hell wouldn't it start?
John Winchester turned the key for the sixty-sixth time before pulling it out of the ignition and chucking it at the windshield. He'd checked everything under the hood about ten times now, and there was absolutely nothing wrong that he see. According to everything that John knew about cars, and he knew a whole hell of a lot, the Impala should be purring on the highway in the direction of home. But for some ungodly reason, it was not. Damn it!
John ambled into the bar he had just exited. It pissed him off more than he could say to have to go ask for help with his car troubles. "Hey," John said, walking up to the bartender. "How far to the closest garage?"
"Ten miles or so," the bartender replied, "need help with your auto-mo-bi-le?"
That was unnecessarily patronizing in John's opinion. Sure, John had some car grease on himself, but he was far from the shadiest man in the place. "Yeah," was his monosyllabic response. This was going to be a fun ten mile or so walk. John was just about to ask for directions when the bartender continued, "Not that it's going to do you any good until next week. Mechanic's on vacation."
Another week? John tried to turn his sneer into a smile, but it didn't go too well. John Winchester was not in a very smiley mood. "Vacation?" he managed with a very fake sounding chuckle. He saw a poker game out of the corner of his eye. At least he could join in that for the money he'd need for the extra nights. "Great for him. Get me a beer, would you?"
"Sure." So now the bartender was warming up now that he realized John might be sticking around for a while. "The guy went home to see his family what with the three days he had until Christmas."
The bottle that John Winchester had just picked up dropped to the floor and shattered. "Goddammitfuckinshithole!" John slammed both fists against the counter. That banshee in New England must have kept him away much longer than he thought. Three days until Christmas. And the garage was not going to be open until next week. Oh, if Mary could get her hands on him… She would be so disappointed. He had honestly lost sense of time, but he'd never allowed Dean or Sammy to use excuses to skate by in life, and he wasn't going to do any differently. He had screwed up royally.
All wide eyes were on John as he looked up. A couple of women were looking especially scandalized, and John realized how unnaturally quiet the place was. "And a very merry Christmas," John added to his previous sentiments, completely stone-faced. He made eye contact with the bartender. "I need to use your phone."
The fifth number John dialed was the first call to be answered. "Hello," said the tiny voice on the other line. "Is your refrigerator running? If it is, you'd better catch it!" The little voice erupted into peals of laughter, as another voice could be heard saying, "Sam, you are such an idiot. You can't prank call someone who calls you."
John felt his face crack into a smile in spite of the circumstances. "Hey, Sammy."
"DAA-AAAAD-DYYYY!" came the response that was more of a shriek than anything else, and John could hear Dean in the background now clamoring for the phone. John had to put the phone farther away from his ear in order to preserve his hearing. "Daddy! Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!" Now Sammy had turned it into a song of sorts. "Daddy, I miss you! When are you coming home? What did you get me for Christmas? Did you do anything cool? Did you know that mosquitoes have forty-seven teeth? Did you miss me more than you missed Dean?"
Sam obviously stopped to take a breath, and John was able to get in a word, "I missed you, too, Sammy." God, he really did, too. He should be home right now with his boys. "Could you put Dean on the phone, buddy?"
"Course, Daddy! I drew a picture of you, but it's a Christmas present, so it's a surprise! Here's Dean! Bye, Daddy!"
"Hey, Dad. Where are you?" Dean was on the phone in a millisecond. He must have snatched it out of Sammy's hands. His calmer, quieter tone gave John's eardrums a rest.
"Hey, kiddo. Could you make sure that our conversation's private?" John didn't like this. Even he knew that he shouldn't be doing this to his son. He didn't like it in the slightest bit, but he was left without much of a choice.
"Yes, sir," came Dean's very predictable reply. John could hear Dean address his younger brother. "Sam, could you go find the Christmas coffee mug for Dad? It's very important for a good Christmas." After a moment, Dean's voice came back clearly on the line. "He's gone now. What's going on? Do you need me to do something?"
He was a good boy. Somehow, despite everything, Dean had turned out to be a good boy. "Hey, Dean, I tried called Jim, Caleb, and Bobby but they didn't answer. Do you know where they are?"
"Yeah, Dad," Dean replied slowly, sounding a little mystified. "They all went home for Christmas. You just missed Pastor Jim. He left at around five today."
"Right." John had been afraid of this. He could vaguely remember actually telling Dean all of this information before he left. "Who did I tell you to call in case of an emergency?"
"911" was Dean's response that made John feel like a total asshole. "You told me to call 911 if Sammy was bleeding. In other sorts of emergencies, I have a gun by the front door and one under my bed. We're safe, Dad. You don't have to worry."
"Dean." John took a big breath. "The Impala broke down, Dean, and I just can't figure out what's wrong with it. It's not going to be fixed for another week at least."
There was silence on Dean's end. John, however, was now getting an evil look from the bartender, so he had no choice but to forge ahead. "Dean," John continued, knowing that if Mary was listening to this, she was crying, "Santa Claus isn't real, so I'm going to need you to go out and buy presents for you and Sammy. Sammy needs to have a nice Christmas, Dean."
Dean was ready with a reply this time. "I'll handle everything, Dad. And you don't need to feel bad about the Santa thing. I'm seven. I know this stuff."
"That's a good boy, Dean."
Dean wished John a Merry Christmas before John returned the phone to the bartender. He sighed loudly and folded his hands, staring blankly down at them. "Gimme a beer," he muttered to the bartender. John Winchester really needed a beer. Or ten.
Sam sat on the floor as he colored another picture for Daddy. He had been angry when Dean had told him that Daddy wouldn't be coming home for Christmas, but Dean had explained about how a shape shifter had impersonated Comet and how Daddy was riding with Santa this year, just to make sure that nothing bad happened. His daddy had to save the day, again. Sam knew that his dad could do anything, and he understood that he couldn't be selfish. He also understood that if the shifter killed Santa, he wouldn't get the really awesome action figure he wanted. Dean had helped him write five letters to Santa, carefully detailing the toy. Sam wanted to make sure to get that toy. It was only the very bestest toy in the entire world.
"Deeee-eeeaaan?" Sam looked up from his picture. Christmas was tomorrow and Dean was baking cookies. He had made a mess in the kitchen trying to find a special recipe Momma had used when Dean was Sam's age. Daddy was going to kill Dean if he came home and found the kitchen like that. "Are the cookies ready yet?"
"Yeah. I just took them out of the oven."
Dean sounded sleepy. He had been doing a lot lately. Sam had walked with Dean to the mall yesterday and had suffered the embarrassment of being put in child care while Dean got to walk around the mall. Sam was still kinda angry at Dean about that. But then Dean had put up all of the Christmas decorations, and Sam got less mad. Santa didn't like angry kids. And kids on Santa's naughty list did not get the very coolest toy in the whole world.
Sam ambled into the kitchen to eat some cookies. He was hungry after all of his coloring. Dean had some flour on his nose and looked really silly. Sam giggled as he reached up on the pan for a cookie. He could feel Dean watching him out of the corner of his eye. Sam took a bite of the cookie and then spit it out on the floor screaming, "Ew! This is the most grossest cookie ever! Ewwww!" It was, too. Sam had never tasted something so disgusting that was supposed to be food. There was that beetle that one time, but Dean had told him not to eat that.
Looking very mad, Dean glared at Sam as he continued to shriek, "Ewwwwww!"
"Shut up!" Dean yelled, surprising Sam into being quiet. "If you don't like the stupid cookies, then don't eat them!"
Sam stared at Dean. "Are you going to cry again?" After Daddy's call three days ago, Sam had come downstairs with the Christmas mug to see Dean sitting on the floor crying real tears. Dean didn't usually cry about anything, so it kinda scared Sam. When Sam asked what was wrong, Dean just told him to go away. Dean could get all angry like that.
Dean just gave him an evil look, picked up a cookie, and stuffed it in his mouth. Sam was glad to see that Dean didn't like the cookies either. Sam watched as his brother picked up the tray of cookies and slammed them all into the garbage can. Sam decided that he should leave Dean alone and go color more. Dean was being naughty, and Sam didn't want Santa to think that he was having any part in that.
Dean had awoken this Christmas morning to Sammy dancing and singing Christmas songs, making up words when he didn't know the real ones. Now Dean sat in Dad's chair and watched happily as Sammy tore through his presents, exclaiming in delight over every one. It had not been easy to shop; Dad had told him to use the money stashed in the top kitchen cabinet. Dean had found just a little over sixty dollars. He wasn't sure what sort of Christmas he was supposed to give Sammy with sixty dollars, but he had done his best.
"Oooohhhhh!" Sammy had opened up the action figure he had wanted so badly. That sucker cost forty dollars, so it had eaten up most of the money. It was definitely worth it, though. Sammy's face was practically shining as he tore through the toy's packaging to play with it right then and there. "This is the bestest Christmas ever!" Sam cried, his eyes dancing as he started pressing all of the buttons on his toy.
Sam had suddenly froze, and Dean wondered in horror if he had grabbed the wrong toy. There had been so many different ones to chose from, and he hadn't been completely sure he'd gotten the right one. "Dean," Sam said very slowly, his little face pale. "Dean, where are your presents?"
There hadn't been enough money for presents for himself, and Dean had been fine with it. Dad wanted Sammy to have a nice Christmas, and Dean thought his little brother deserved the best as well. The kid had been through so much. "I guess I wasn't good enough this year for presents, Sam. And I made really bad cookies. At least I didn't get coal, right?"
Sam continued playing with his presents, but his mood was more subdued now. He did brighten considerably when Dean turned on the television so that they could watch Rudolph. The only condition was that Dean had to warn Sammy when the Abominable Snowman was coming so he could shut his eyes. Dean was very amused that his brother, who had seen really scary things in real life, was afraid of a lump of clay.
Dean left Sammy to watch Frosty by himself as he went in the kitchen to prepare a meal of Spaghetti O's, grilled cheese, pancakes, and a turkey TV dinner. It wasn't a traditional Christmas meal, but Dean didn't know how to make anything else. To entertain himself as he cooked, Dean thought about what he would do if he actually met a talking snowman or a flying reindeer in real life. They'd be getting faces full of rock salt, that was for sure.
Dean was in the middle of mixing pancake batter when he heard Sam scream, "Dean! Look!"
Worried about what might be making his brother scream like that since there was absolutely nothing frightening in Frosty, Dean rushed into the other room to find Sam standing by the Christmas tree pointing at a very poorly wrapped gift underneath it. "It looks like you weren't bad after all!" Sam exclaimed, doing a very bad job of pretending he was very surprised by this new development. "Oh! And there's something else!" Sammy cried before Dean could do anything. He watched Sam dart into the kitchen and then emerge from it, a few of the cookies from yesterday in hand. Sammy started munching on one, proclaiming it to be "Yummy!"
"Sam, you know what Dad and I told you about eating food out of the garbage!" Dean pried the remaining cookies out of his brother's hand, but he really appreciated the effort. The cookies had been awful; he must have forgotten a really important ingredient. Dean understood how difficult it must have been for Sam to pretend to like the disgusting things.
Dean moved to the present under the tree after some prompting from Sammy. Tape was sticking off the thing at all sorts of weird angles, and the wrapping practically fell from the gift as soon as Dean picked it up, revealing the action figure Sammy had so desperately wanted for months. Dean didn't even know what to say. He looked from the action figure to Sammy. His brother looked at the toy a little wistfully but then smiled brightly when he realized Dean was looking at him. Sammy had been willing to sacrifice his own happiness for his brother's, giving him the one thing he really wanting this year. Knowing that he meant that much to Sammy made up for everything that had gone wrong. "Thanks, Sammy. For an annoying little brother, you're not bad." Dean handled the action figure over to Sam. "Could you hold onto this for me? I need to…"
But Dean was interrupted by a loud noise from outside. He and Sammy both jumped in surprise. "What's that?" Sam cried, his eyes wide with excitement. "Sleigh bells?"
Sammy was already darting towards the door as Dean replied, "No… it's a horn. A truck horn." Why would a truck be blaring a horn so loudly outside of their house? And more importantly, what the hell was wrong with Sammy to make him think it was sleigh bells?
Sam had looked out the window, and now he was shrieking gibberish and unlocking the door, throwing it open and sprinting outside before Dean could stop him. Dean followed close on Sammy's heels, hoping that his brother wouldn't get into too much trouble before he got to him. Dean was just about to grab Sam's jacket for him since it was really cold and he didn't want to bring Sammy into the hospital with frostbite when he heard the cry, "DAAAA-AAAAADDDDDD-DDDDDYYYYYY! Merry Christmas, Daddy!"
Dean forgot all about Sam's jacket as he ran as quickly as he could outside, just in time to see Sammy fling his arms around their dad's neck and be lifted up into the air, squealing with glee. A huge semi truck was parked in front of the house, and the driver, a large man dressed in red with a white beard and glasses, smiled from the front seat. This guy had apparently given Dad a ride home. Dean blinked a few times to make sure it was all real.
"Hey, Dean." It was real alright. Dean felt a smile stretch from ear to ear as he walked towards his dad. It took all of his self control to keep himself from tackling Dad as Sammy had done.
"Merry Christmas, Dad," Dean said just as Sam noticed the truck driver and jumped from Dad's arms, running toward the truck screaming, "Santa! Santa!"
"Merry Christmas, Dean." If Dean wasn't seeing things, it looked as if Dad was close to tears. "Sammy told me what a good job you did with decorating and cooking. And he said that Santa brought him everything he's ever wanted. You did good."
Dean shrugged it off. "I'm just glad you're home, Dad." And he was. Dean couldn't think of a time he'd ever been happier to see his dad. It was almost as if… but Dean quickly dismissed the idea forming in his head. "There's not much for dinner, though. I'm sorry about that."
"Dean, that's alright. But I have to tell you, I was wrong about Santa."
Dean rolled his eyes. It was nice that Dad wanted to try, but he was too old for such nonsense. He had still believed in Santa before that call from Dad, but Dean really should have known better. He was almost eight, after all, and eight-year-olds were too old to be believing in Santa Claus. Dean watched as his dad looked pointedly over at the truck driver, and Dean almost snorted. Did his dad honestly want him to believe that this guy was Santa? It was pretty funny. And crazy, especially coming from Dad.
"I'm serious, Dean." Wow, his dad was persistent about this. He almost looked as if he was really telling the truth, too. "You believe in so much bad, in so many evil spirits. Why should it be so crazy to believe in a good one?"
Dean grinned again as his dad reached down to muss up his hair. "What did you want for Christmas, Dean?"
The grin faded from Dean's face. He had decided, very secretly, that all he wanted for Christmas was for his family to be together, for Dad to somehow make it home. That was all that he had wanted for Christmas. But it just didn't make sense. "Do you believe in Santa, Dad?" Dean asked, his voice tiny.
Dean watched as his dad's eyes traveled from him over to Sammy talking very earnestly to the truck driver and then came back to him. Dad put his arm around Dean's shoulders as he looked his son in the eyes and said, "Yeah, Dean. Yeah, I guess I do."
"Holy shit! Dean!" Sam punched his brother in the arm just in time for Dean to realize that he was about to swerve off the road and plow into a tree. The Impala had been totaled one too many times in the past year already. She didn't need any more dents, and Dean of all people should know that. "What are you doing, man?"
"Sorry, Sammy," Dean replied as he straightened out the wheel. "I was just thinking."
"Well, dammit, think when you're not driving." Sam had been on pins and needles all day, and it had made him a bit ornery. It was Christmas Eve, their first one without Dad, and he wasn't sure what to do. Dean was acting as if it was any other day, nothing special, as Sam had expected he would. But Dad would want them to do something, anything really. Sam couldn't remember it, but Dean had told him quite a few times at how hard Dad had worked to make sure his boys had a nice Christmas after Mom died. Before they had lost him, too. He would want them to have a nice Christmas this year, as well. "I think we should pull over," Sam voiced, looking at Dean, gauging his reaction. "To have a nice dinner or something. For Christmas."
"Nah," was Dean's monosyllabic response. He didn't even take his eyes off the road, but his lips were doing that pouting thing they did when Dean pretended he wasn't upset.
Sam understood that Dean missed Dad. But, hell, so did Sam. He was getting teary-eyed thinking of their past Christmases as a family. However, as much as Sam might like to stop time so that they could deal with their loss, he couldn't and neither could Dean. It was Christmas, there was nothing either Winchester could do to stop it, and Dean was being a tool. A royal Scrooge. It wasn't like Sam was asking Dean to cook a turkey, chop down a Christmas tree, and go caroling. And Sam was already in a bad mood. "Asshole," Sam muttered.
Dean slammed on the brakes. Sam was thrown forward, his seatbelt nearly choking him. "Jesus, Dean!" The car was stopped now, but Sam's heart was racing. "I won't say anything else. Ever again, okay? Just don't kill me."
He wasn't even listening. Dean was staring forward, his eyes almost glazing over. Sam didn't believe that Dean should be driving, but was almost terrified to voice his opinion. The two brothers just sat in silence for a good ten minutes with Dean staring through the windshield and Sam staring worriedly at Dean.
"You called me an asshole," Dean finally said, breaking the silence but without turning to look at Sam.
"Yeah, I did, and I'm sorry." Sam couldn't believe that this petty insult could be the reason for his brother's apparent breakdown. He was mystified, but even doubly so when Dean burst out laughing, laughing so hard that he had to wipe tears away from his eyes. That settled things in Sam's mind. Dean had officially gone crazy.
Dean finally controlled his laughter and spoke. "No, I'm sorry, Sam." Dean fiddled around with the radio until he found a station playing Christmas and then pulled back onto the road. Sam watched in amazement as Dean went from driving in silence, to humming, to singing quite loudly and shamelessly. Good lord. As crazy as the moment was, Sam knew that he couldn't let his brother ever sing in public. Dean actually had a voice, and Sam didn't need women tearing off their clothes and throwing themselves at his brother.
Dean drove a little longer, jabbing Sam every once in a while and inviting him to join in the singing, saying that he used to pull off quite the showstopper around Christmastime. Sam had no idea what had happened, what had snapped in his brother's head, but this sudden change in Dean's mood caused a lift in Sam's as well. It started to kind of feel like Christmas. And that was almost a Christmas miracle in itself.
Dean pulled the Impala over at a motel and instructed Sam to get a room. He then drove off while Sam anxiously presented the credit card Dean had handed him to the manager of the motel behind the desk. While Dean might have thought that the name "Jin Gelbelrock" was freakin' hilarious, Sam was not amused. Luckily the card was accepted, and Sam had found Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer on TV in the motel room by the time Dean returned with bags from a local grocery store.
Sam appreciated Dean's effort as his brother pulled out turkey sandwiches, dried cranberries, potato chips, and eggnog. "Eggnog?" Sam asked, laughing. "Dean, we don't like eggnog!"
Dean shrugged. "Yeah, well, it's tradition, so you'll shut up, drink some, and then follow it with this." Dean pulled a six pack from another bag. Sam should have known better than to doubt his brother.
The brothers ate their dinner with Dean chuckling most of the time as he glanced at the television and reminisced about how terrified Sam used to be of the Abominable Snowman. Dean had to do an impression of Sam screaming and hiding. Sam, not half as amused as Dean, could still see where his terror came from. That Bumble would be a hunt Sam would love to undertake.
As Sam brushed his teeth, he saw Dean sneakily pull something else out of the grocery bags. Puzzled, Sam spit out the toothpaste to get a closer look at what his brother was doing. Dean had… Sam had to blink a few times… Dean had a pint of milk and cookies and was sticking them on a plate outside the window. "Alright, Dean," Sam said, started to feel a little heated. The Bumble jokes were bad enough. "If this is more teasing because I still believed in Santa until the eighth grade, it's not really funny anymore."
Sam only received a blank stare and a "Whatever," from Dean. Sam almost laughed as he realized what was going on if Dean wasn't trying to mock him. "Wait, wait, wait!" Sam said, putting up his hands so Dean couldn't push past him into the bathroom. "Are you trying to tell me that you, Dean Winchester, still believe in Santa Claus? Really? I mean… seriously?" Sam had asked Dean some pretty strange questions over the past year, but this might just top the list.
Dean gnawed on his lip a bit as he looked out the window at the cookies. A slow smile stretched across his face as he reached up to muss up Sam's hair. "Yeah. You know what, Sammy? Yeah, I guess I do."