Disclaimer - Don't own them, just meddling in their childhood and hoping to put a smile on your face. Enjoy.
Fear, Fangs and Faeries
A Wee Bit of Drabble
Ten-year-old Dean had been concerned when he didn't find Sammy right away after school. He had grown further concerned when he saw that his brother had started home without him. Sammy hated walking home alone. Not to mention Dad would kill Dean if he found out that his six-year-old son walked home alone. Dean could have easily caught up with his younger brother, but Sam had never tried to avoid him before. For all his concern, he saw that, physically, Sammy was fine, so he let his curiosity take hold and followed Sammy at a distance, to see what he was up to.
Sammy went straight home. His head was down and he walked at a quick pace. This was also odd because, normally, the vivacious first grader meandered and tried to see as much of the world around him as he could see. Something was definitely up.
Dean quietly followed Sam into the apartment. He did a quick survey of the living room and noticed two things. Sammy was not there and neither were his books and shoes. It was a house rule to take off your shoes at the door. It was also habit for Sammy to come in, grab a snack from the kitchen and plop in front of the TV to watch afternoon cartoons.
Dean heard noise coming from the direction of Sammy's room and went to investigate. The door to Sammy's room had been left ajar, so Dean quietly pushed the door open just a little further, giving him a view of Sammy's back. Sammy had his backpack on his bed and was rummaging through it. He then pulled something out in a very small plastic bag and stuffed it between his mattresses.
Dean was old enough to know about drugs, but he really couldn't believe that Sammy would have any clue about them. And if he did, if somebody at their elementary school had introduced Sammy to drugs, that somebody would very soon be having an up-close and personal chat with Dean's fists. It was, after all, his responsibility to watch out for Sammy; and he figured he would really be the only one who would be able to do anything. Sadly, for such a young boy, Dean was already familiar with bureaucracy and red tape. He and his dad had long talks about social workers and school counselors. Dad had instilled in him a mistrust for those in authority whom he considered inadequate to handle serious situations.
But, as any good hunter does, Dean knew he had to gather all the information he could before jumping to conclusions. Sammy was pretty smart, so wheedling information out of him was not always as easy as it should have been. Whoever said things were as easy as taking candy from a baby had never met Sammy.
Dean headed back to the living room, took off his own shoes by the door, and tried to come up with a plan. He decided he'd try the honest approach first, then go for guilt, and then maybe he'd tickle it out of Sam. He really didn't want to bring Dad in on this if he could help it. He knew Dad would blame him for letting Sam get mixed up with the wrong kids. He thought he'd been careful to know everyone Sam came in contact with, but he had a different recess and lunch than his brother. Some things just couldn't be helped.
When Sammy came out of his room, he was wearing a guilty expression on his face. Dean loved Sam, but he really was an open book. Sam's innocence had been protected enough to keep him honest and open, not know that, sometimes, it was best to hide what you were feeling.
"What's up, kiddo?" Dean asked as he prepared a snack for the two of them.
"Nothin'," was the reply. Usually Sam was all smiles when he saw Dean after school, but not today. His guilty expression was mixed a bit with sadness, and Dean's concern that something had happened began to outweigh his concern that Sam was doing something he shouldn't.
"You forgot to take your shoes off." When Sam's only reply was to nod and head to the door and remove his shoes, Dean continued, "You got somethin' on your mind, Sammy?"
"Nuh-uh," Sam said.
Well, Sammy wasn't freely sharing anything. Dean would have to press a little harder. "How was school today? Anything happen that you want to tell me about?"
Sammy looked at Dean with a slightly awed expression. It always amazed him when Dean knew something was going on. No matter how careful he was or how natural he tried to act. It was like Dean could read minds. Daddy often said Dean would make a great hunter one day. He often wondered if his brother had superpowers. He had to think fast. Dean always new how to get him to talk, and he didn't want to say anything. He didn't want it to get hurt.
"Nuh… No. Are those snacks done? I'm starved."
Hmm… classic redirection. "Almost," Dean said. "So… Your day. How was it?"
"All right." Sammy said.
"You not interested in cartoons today? You must have had an exciting day."
Sammy decided his best tactic was avoidance, while telling the truth. So he went into great detail about his day at school. The more he talked, the more excited he got. He loved school. He loved learning. He loved the teachers. He even liked most of the kids at this school.
When Sam got to talking, he was rather hard to shut up. Dean listened very carefully to all the details of his day, trying to find some clue as to the earlier secrecy. There didn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary, however. This conversation did serve one purpose, though. Whatever mood Sam was in after school lifted, at least for the time being. Dean decided to let it go… for now.
Things went well until supper time. It was shortly before than that John got home. As soon as he stepped into the apartment, Sam became very serious and mysterious again. He greeted John, obviously very pleased that John was home; but his greeting was reserved, with only a closed-lip grin instead of his usual ear-to-ear, toothy smile that melted the hearts of many-a-woman, an effect that he never would grow out of.
John looked at Dean with a curious expression on his face. Dean just shrugged, and that was the extent of their conversation on the matter. It irritated Dean a little that Dad didn't seem to care when something was so obviously wrong. What he didn't know was that John trusted Dean fully with Sammy. He knew that, if something was wrong, not only would Dean figure out the problem, but he would handle it. He also trusted Dean's discretion and his maturity enough to believe that if Dean couldn't handle something, he would come to John for help. John knew that eventually he'd find out what was going on, but he didn't need to worry about it yet.
Later that night, when Sam remained in his sullen mood, Dean went out of his way to make Sam smile. He now thought if he could relax Sam enough, he would eventually open up to him. Dean was, after all, learning as he went. So, when they were brushing their teeth before bed, Dean started a water fight in the bathroom. Sam fought him at first, but eventually joined in the play, until Dad yelled for them to settle down; it was bedtime.
Dean very carefully picked out tonight's bedtime story, "Guess How Much I Love You." Sam was quickly getting too old for this book; however, Dean wanted to make sure Sammy knew he was loved (as this was not something Dean would ever openly admit), and it was a fun book that they acted out together. He hoped it would get Sam giggling again. Sure enough, the book worked. By the end of the story, Sammy was giggling and snuggled in his bed next to Dean. It was during this laughing and giggling that Dean noticed something he hadn't noticed earlier because Sam had been so tight-lipped all evening.
"Hey," Dean said, smiling. "You lost your first tooth."
Immediately Sammy got very serious. He clapped both his hands over his mouth and looked at Dean, almost scared.
"What? What is it, Sammy?" Dean was suddenly very concerned and confused about what had just happened.
Sammy just shook his head.
"Come on, Sammy. What gives?"
Sam continued to stare, wide-eyed, at Dean for a few seconds. Finally, he dropped his hands and whispered in a very small voice, "Don't tell Daddy."
"What? Why?" Dean was getting more anxious about this by the minute. Why would Sammy keep a secret from Dad? Maybe the tooth didn't just fall out. Dean took a deep breath and asked Sam, "Did someone do this to you?"
Sam became confused. "No." He couldn't understand why Dean was suddenly getting protective.
"Well… why don't you want me to tell Dad?" Dean could not fathom what Sammy was thinking at this point.
"Peter told me that when you loose a tooth, you're supposed to put it under your pillow. Then the tooth fairy comes in your room when you're sleeping and takes your tooth and leaves a quarter."
Apparently Sam thought this explained everything, but Dean still wasn't getting it. "Yeah… Okay… But why don't you want Dad to know?"
Sam scooted as close to Dean as he could get. With his most serious expression, he whispered conspiratorially, "I don't want Daddy to kill the tooth fairy."
Dean sat stone still for almost a minute as he realized what had Sam so secretive and nervous around their dad. He tried as hard as he could not to burst out laughing. The best he could do was cover his mouth and snicker. All his worrying about the trouble Sammy might be in was for naught. Sam was concerned about protecting the life of a magical gift-giver.
"What?" It was Sam's turn to ask questions. "What's so funny, Dean? I don't want the tooth fairy to get hurt because of me."
If it wasn't so funny, Dean would have felt a little bad that Sam took that much responsibility for someone else's well-being. Still smiling, Dean said, "I'm sorry. It's okay, Sammy. Dad won't kill the tooth fairy. I promise. Remember, Dad only kills bad things. Things that want to hurt us."
"But I don't want Daddy to get confused when the tooth fairy came into my room. I don't want Daddy to think it's something bad. My room gets very dark at night."
"Dad's very good at hunting, kiddo. He only kills things that are bad. He would recognize the tooth fairy."
Sammy still looked unsure, despite Dean's certainty. "Tell you what. We'll move the nightlight to your room tonight so that there's extra light in here. That way, Dad will be able to see better, and he won't shoot the tooth fairy. Okay? Besides, if you tell Dad to expect the tooth fairy, then he'll know to be extra careful."
Sam thought about this for a minute and decided this was a good plan. So the two of them got up and, while Dean grabbed the nightlight from the hall, Sammy continued to the living room to see his Daddy.
Sam waited until John looked up from what he was doing. "Aren't you supposed to be in bed, son?" John asked. He reached out his arm and wrapped it around his son in a one-armed-hug.
"Uh-huh," Sammy said. "But, I wanted to warn you…"
"Warn me? About what?" By this time, Dean was heading into the living room and John glanced up at him questioningly. When he saw the smile on his oldest son's face, he relaxed.
"I lost my first tooth. And…"
"Really? Can I see?" John sounded remarkably excited about this small milestone in his youngest's life. Truly, he'd missed far too many, he was glad to be part of this one. He had a feeling he owed that small favor to Dean.
At this simple request, Sammy beamed and opened his mouth wide. He put his fingers in his mouth to show the empty place in which his tooth once resided. He was so excited by his father's interest that he nearly forgot about warning him about the tooth fairy.
After a few minutes of chattering about the tooth, John asked, "So what did you want to warn me about?"
"Oh! I wanted to make sure you knew the tooth fairy was coming so you wouldn't shoot it."
John blinked in surprise for a moment, so Sam continued, "We put the nightlight in my room so that you can see better when it comes. Then you'll know it's the tooth fairy."
"Well," John began, "that was very good thinking. And thank you for the warning." John was both disturbed and pleased by his son's statements. He was disturbed that this was actually a concern for his son. What parent makes their kid afraid he will kill the tooth fairy? On the other hand, he was also pleased at the level of trust his sons had in his ability to keep them safe. He would not always be able to protect them as he did now. He also knew that he would not always have that blind trust. But he would treasure it for now. "Off to bed."
"Good night, Daddy," Sammy said, and then pecked his father on the cheek.
"Good night, Dad," Dean gave his Dad a quick hug, already growing out of the demonstrative forms of affection.
"Night, son." John knew his faith in his oldest was well placed. Dean would always watch out for Sam.
Thanks to my usual beta, J.A. Carlton, and my usual editor, Mom.
And thanks to Sam McBratney for writing the very cute story "Guess How Much I Love You."