in the Frost
Part, Wordcount and Rating:1/1, 3,500 words. SPN PG, Gen Wee!Chesters
Archiving: The Moonlight Hotel and elsewhere by
Disclaimer: They own me, not the other way round
A/N: Wee!Chester fic, which means fluff with a big side of Winchester. Spoilers only for the fact that they used to be children.
Summary: A heavy snow storm threatens to make the boys' journey home from school a nightmare.
It had been snowing all day and everyone had been a little crazy; wanting to get out and play, make snowmen and pelt missiles from forts dug into the deep drifts. Dean was worried, though - they lived so far out and the road might not be dug clear. They'd have to just get on the bus and hope.
Sammy had to wait in the gym until Dean's classes finished. There was only one bus that went out near their home and the little kids crammed in with their older brothers and sisters instead of having their own bus. Sammy kept telling Dean how great it was because he got to look at whatever he wanted from the library and he got to sit next to Dean all the way home, and Dean liked it too; it meant that he could keep an eye on his little brother and help him finish his homework – his reading words or numbers that he'd got stuck with.
Dean headed down towards the gym, hoping Sammy was already waiting outside so there would maybe be time to get Martin Jordan back for the snowball he'd stuffed down Jenny Sigler's top at lunch. Not that Dean liked Jenny Sigler or anything, it's just that Dad said bullies need to be dealt with.
Sammy was standing in the half open doorway with Miss Bellam, his nose bright red and the tracks of tears still wet on his face. Dean started running towards his little brother, all thoughts of defending a pretty girl pushed right out of his head by the worry that Sammy might be hurt.
"Dean!" Sammy yelled and started running towards Dean, barrelling into him and nearly sending them both flying on the slippery surface of the yard.
"What's wrong Sammy?" Dean held onto Sammy's tiny, fragile arm and started looking over his brother for signs of injury.
Sammy launched into a double-speed litany of woe. "I lost m'mitten Dean – it fell out my pocket and Miss Bellam asked why it wasn't on a cord like everyone else's and I looked for it but it's not anywhere and my hand is cold and Daddy's going to be mad but it's not my fault I don't have a cord and…."
"Okay Sammy, okay." Dean took the little red, chapped-looking, hand that Sammy had held up to show the missing mitten and rubbed it to a warm glow between his gloved hands. "I'm sorry I didn't sew them onto a cord for you, but we'll fix it, okay? Daddy won't be mad." Daddy won't be mad with you Sammy, I didn't know I had to sew them onto anything. I should have known.
Sammy looked up at Dean, blinked and nodded. "Okay Dean. M'hand's not so cold now. Can we go on the bus?"
Dean grinned and took hold of his brother's hand, stuffing their clasped fingers into the pocket of his coat, before leading Sammy out through the gates to the waiting bus.
"Hey Dean, Sammy, thought I was gonna have to leave without you." Danny the driver grinned at them as he gestured them onto the crowded vehicle to the last available seat, right at the front.
Sammy's eyes opened wide. "Danny, you'd have left us? In the snow?"
Danny exchanged a wry look with Dean. "Well, kid, I've got to get everyone home before the ice storm hits, ya know? You get your big brother here to sit down so I can get us started."
Sammy nodded seriously and dragged at Dean's hand. "Come on."
Once they got settled into their seat, Dean started rooting around in his bag for Sammy's snack. He'd read in a magazine at the hospital last time that kids Sammy's age needed to eat often and a healthy snack when they finished school would help them with their homework. Sammy did most of his homework on the bus, so Sammy needed a snack on the bus, too.
There wasn't a whole lot to choose from when it came to snacks but Dean had tried to make flapjacks from the recipe on the back of Dad's porridge box and Sammy had been inhaling them all week. They made him very sticky, Dean guessed there was too much syrup in them, but Sammy liked them, oats were good for him and sticky was pretty much Sammy's normal state anyway.
Dean carried a pack of cheap baby wipes right in the bottom of his bag just to de-stick Sammy.
"What homework you got, Sammy?" Dean asked as his brother examined his flapjack for the best angle of approach.
"Ummm, I've got four pages of my book left to read and we've a project about cold. Peter Mernes is going to do Eskimos but they're not cold. They live in igloos."
Dean thought hard. This school was very big on projects, people's parents did lots of the work that was handed in and they were supposed to be part of the fully rounded learning experience.
He sighed. "Okay Sammy..."
"Peter Mernes said that it wasn't colder outside than it is in our fridge. He said our fridge was broken. Our fridge isn't broken is it Dean? There aren't supposed to be icicles in the fridge and there are outside. And the thermometer on the porch said it was 20 degrees this morning which is too cold for the fridge. I don't like frozen milk"
"Peter Mernes didn't know about igloos, so he's hardly gonna be a Refrigerator Expert! Maybe you can compare keeping things cold in the fridge with keeping them cold outside, see which works best?"
"Okay." Sammy paused and screwed up his nose. "Dean, It's very white out there." He pointed out the windshield of the bus at the whirling mass of snow.
"Yeah it is kiddo…I'm sure Danny'll get us through it and home okay though. Let's get you cleaned up and do your book." Please let us get home alright, Dad's not due back until Sunday.
Dean helped Sammy with his book, although it was more like a little story time on the bus because there weren't any words that his little brother didn't already know. None of Sammy's teachers ever seemed to realize quite how smart he was; he'd been reading Dean's books for ages now.
Danny was driving very slowly, the bus had barely left the edges of the town and at the rate they were travelling it was going to be Sammy's bedtime by the time they made it home.
"Sammy, I think the journey's going to take longer than usual. You should sleep here and I'll let you stay up a bit later when we get home."
"Okay Dean, is it 'cause of the snow?"
"Yeah, come on, get comfy."
Sammy could sleep anywhere, especially when he was in a vehicle; something to do with the amount of time they spent in the car travelling around so Dad could get closer to the bad things, and Dean was happy to let his brother curl up against him on the hard seat and use his shoulder as a pillow.
Dean's head jerked back and he blinked a couple of times as he looked around. He must've fallen asleep too, because the bus was nearly empty now - just him and Sammy, Danny, and Ella; the little blonde girl who lived at the house before theirs. Dad wouldn't be impressed, sleeping with no protection but the little talisman he wore round his neck.
Sammy was shivering slightly in his sleep; he'd slipped a little along the seat and his leg was hard up against the cold metal side of the bus. It had gotten a lot colder while Dean had been sleeping, there were tiny ice crystals forming on the inside of the window.
He jogged his shoulder slightly to try and wake his brother. He spoke softly, so Sammy wouldn't be startled. "Sammy, hey… Sammy."
Sammy curled up tightly like a cat and made a little disgruntled face before he opened one eye and looked at Dean. "Are we nearly there yet? My leg hurts. S'cold in here."
"Your leg's been slammed up against the side of the bus, dude. It's sore because it's cold. Sit up and it'll get better." Dean got his glove from his pocket. "Here, put this and your mitten on, it'll be warmer."
Sammy squirmed up in the seat and started swinging his cold leg back and forward as he pulled on his mitten and Dean's over-sized glove. The bus slowed to a stop, not pulling over to the side of the road to drop Ella as it usually would, but just halting in the middle of the road near her mailbox. Ella's dad was sitting on his tractor, waiting for his daughter. Mr. Thomson looked cold; he must've been sitting there waiting for hours.
Dean's stomach rumbled as he realized that dinner time had come and gone; he cursed under his breath, he should have put some provisions in his bag. At least Sammy wouldn't be starving.
Danny helped Ella over to her dad and then got back onto the bus; knocking a big lump of snow from the bottom of the windshield before he swung back inside and closed the door over. "Nearly home boys, I hope. Your dad be waiting for you to get you up that track?"
Dean thought quickly, putting a warning hand on Sammy's leg to let him know that Dean was going to handle this one. "Just up the track a little, yeah. The truck can't make it back up that last corner if he comes all the way down."
"Alright. You'll need to help the squirt a bit then; Snow'll be over his head out here."
It only took another twenty minutes for the bus to get to the end of the rough track that led up to their house. It had stopped snowing and Dean wasn't sure that the storm had hit as badly out here, anyway; he was sure he could still see the tire tracks from Dad's truck, and Dad hadn't been home in nearly a week. He helped Sammy down from the bus.
"See you Monday boys!" Danny hollered as he pulled away, obviously desperate to get home himself.
The snow wasn't much deeper on the track than it had been this morning and Sammy managed quite well, scrambling up the ruts that Dad had left when he drove off to take out the nasty poltergeist on Tuesday. Dean was glad that the clouds were beginning to clear, letting the moon light their way. He had a flashlight in his bag; had to when they lived so far out from the streetlights; but it was safer not to use it. Not being the brightest light source about made easier to see anything untoward lurking and easier to hide from it, too. The trees that marked the edge of their property were laden heavily with the snow and everything gleamed and sparkled with the cold. They'd gotten about halfway up the track before Sammy stopped, panting and red faced.
"Dean, it's so far! Why'd Daddy choose a house so far away? My feet hurt."
Sammy looked exhausted and Dean was tired and hungry; they had to get home. He grabbed Sammy's hand, almost pulling off his own large glove from his brother's little hand in the process. "Come on Sammy. You know we need somewhere we can practise and where no one's going to hear Dad's guns and it's not as far out as the house in Connecticut was, just because you're old enough not to have to stay off on snowy days anymore… Quit whining and come on!"
Sammy started to sniff, dragging his feet and really making Dean pull him along. The little snivelling whiny noises that he was making annoyed Dean: if it wasn't for his little brother dragging and moaning they'd have been home by now.
It took them forty minutes to get up the track to the house. Sam was crying, tears streaming down his face and hiccups interrupting the stream of "My feet hurt, Dean, my toes are so sore, I can't Dean, I can't. I want Daddy, I hate you, it's sore".
Dean was cold and exhausted and so hungry. But Sammy was making such a fuss. He always looked after Sammy, loved his little brother more than anyone in the whole world, but sometimes he didn't like him very much. He pulled the cord at his neck and got their key loose. The lock was stiff with the cold and the house didn't feel a lot warmer than outside.
"Go into the kitchen, Sammy; I'll get the stove started and it'll be warmer in there." Dean bustled about, gathering firewood to replace what they'd used the night before and setting some in the stove to burn. When Dean had finished and set some water on the stove to boil ready for dinner, Sammy was still standing - all wrapped up, shifting from foot to foot with a pained expression on his face,
"Come on, Sammy. Get out of your coat, and start getting the table ready."
A quiet sob escaped from Sammy's mouth. "M'feet hurt, Dean, they're so sore."
Dean took a closer look at his baby brother and noticed he was shaking slightly. Surely he isn't still that cold?
Dean scraped one of the dining chairs across the kitchen and set it close to the warmth of the stove. Then he pulled Sammy over to the chair and helped his brother out of his coat, scarf, hat and gloves. Dean knew all about insulated-in cold; Dad had told him all about it once when they were staking out a possible Black Dog. Once Sammy was able to get the benefit of the heat from the stove Dean sat him down and yanked off his boots. Sammy cried out as the little rubber boots were pulled off, holding tight to the sides of his chair; worried, Dean pulled off his brother's socks. Sammy's feet were white and the skin felt strange to Dean's touch. Sammy whimpered at Dean's checking and squirmed in his chair, more tears streaming down his face.
Dean took a deep breath, and when he finally spoke his voice sounded very small. "Sammy, I think you've got frostbite."
Dean went into the cold living room and got dad's big medical book. He could remember dad telling him a little about what to do, to let the affected place heat up slowly, but he wanted to check.
It was so hard not to try and rub some heat into Sammy's feet, to try and rub the pain away. Sammy was still sitting in the chair, and Dean had turned it so his back was to the stove and his feet away from the direct heat that might cause the frozen skin to warm up too quickly. Sammy was still crying, hadn't really ever stopped crying and Dean knew that the pain in his brother's feet was only going to get worse when he finally got enough water warmed through to soak them in. The book had said that the water had to be the same temperature as a baby's bath, so Dean tested the big pot of water with his elbow. When he figured it was warm enough, and it seemed to be better if the water were too cold than too hot in the long run, Dean lifted the pan off the stove and placed it in front of Sammy's chair.
"Sammy, you need to put your feet into the water. It's probably going to hurt, but you need to get them better." Dean could hardly bear to look at his little brother's face as Sammy edged forward on the chair and gingerly put his feet in the water.
"How's that feel, Sammy?"
Sammy screwed up his face, and stared at his feet, considering. "Cold. It feels cold, but there's steam so it can't be… Are my feet broken?"
"No Sammy, they just got too cold and they're a bit confused about what they're feeling, that's all. You should write about this for your project."
Sammy just nodded and Dean was almost pleased to see his brother's face blanch a little more at the pain from his feet. The book had said that pain was a good sign, that it meant the nerves were okay. The never ending tears streaming down Sammy's face made him feel guilty for ignoring his brother when he'd been telling him about the frostbite on the way up the road. Abruptly, Dean rocked back on his heels.
"Right, I'm going to start dinner, you just stay there until your feet feel better, okay?"
Sammy nodded at Dean, and wished he was little enough that he could have Blue Bear with him, or so he hadn't had to go to school today at all. His feet hurt so badly, worse than when his shoulder had come out, worse than any of the bumps or cuts that he'd got when he'd been training. Daddy had given him tablets for some of those and they'd not be anything like this.
It felt like someone was sticking hundreds of sharp hot needles into where his socks had been, like his feet were on fire. Sammy gulped in a big breath. Maybe this is what Mommy had felt like, on her whole body, when she died?
Dean turned away from the pot of mac'n'cheese when he heard Sammy's gentle sobs turn into something more, something with a slightly hysterical edge.
"Sammy, what is it? Are your feet hurting more?" Dean knelt by his brother, checking the now red skin on his feet.
"Mommy burned all up Dean, it must've hurt her so bad." Sammy grabbed Dean round the neck and hung on, sobbing into his brother's shoulder.
Dean put his arms round the sobbing little boy and rubbed down his back. "Sammy, what?" He took a deep breath. "You know Dad said that Mommy never felt anything, that it was too fast."
"B- b- but Dean, she burned and it's sore and it's just my feet and it hurts and"
"Oh Sammy, your feet aren't burnt kiddo, the pain is the nerves all coming back to life, not like being burnt at all. Mommy didn't feel it, she didn't."
Dean stayed knelt on the floor, hugging his little brother, until the smell from the stove reminded him that he was supposed to be making dinner.
"Sammy, it's dinner time. I need to check your feet, okay?"
Sammy's feet felt like their normal temperature, so Dean dried them off and put Sammy's socks back on him. Then he'd dragged the chair over to the table, Sammy clinging on tight so that his brother didn't need to walk around on the abused extremities.
Dinner was only slightly burned and once Dean got Sammy's bear for him he'd calmed down enough to eat it; the pain from his feet only a memory, and finally reassured by Dean's constant repetition of their father's story about how Mommy had died. It was very late by the time they eventually finished dinner and the moon was shining brightly through the kitchen window.
Dean remembered a story that Mommy had told him when he was very small, before Sammy had come, and he walked through to the living room to check the window before quickly returning to his brother.
"Sammy, Mommy told me once that the frost patterns on the window were messages from the Snow Angel."
"Yeah, I asked Dad about it, and he said there was no such thing but then Mommy showed him where it had been in the garden."
"But Dean, we make Snow Angels all the time, you showed me.."
"Yeah, we do. Mommy said it's to show the real Snow Angel that it's welcome here, and then it will leave you messages"
"Isn't that bad? Inviting things to the house?" Sammy looked worried.
"I asked Dad and he said it was okay. That there was no way an Angel made of Snow could cross the salt anyway, and that Mommy would want me to show you."
"Oh, okay. I don't wanna go outside again, Dean."
Dean grinned at Sammy and grabbed his chair, tipping it back onto two legs and dragging it across the floor again. Sammy held on tight, squealing a little with excitement as his big brother pulled him into the living room.
Dean hauled the throw off from the couch and wrapped it around Sammy. The bright moonlight showed the delicate frosted fern pattern on the outside of the windows and Sammy traced them with a pudgy little finger.
"Look Dean, there's a s, for Sammy and a d for Dean. Do you think the Snow Angel knows Mommy? Do you think she told the Angel about us? Do you think that's why our letters are there?"