Saturday Morning Cartoons

Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to Supernatural. Sadly that's the cold hard truth. But if I ever get a genie...

Dean listened carefully to the snap crackle pop coming from a small red bowl on the kitchen counter. The sound was so faint it barely registered as he rushed across the cold linoleum tiles. Using his hands to hoist himself up high enough to brace his feet against the tiny metal bars, he climbed up the red covered bar stool. He pulled at the wrinkles in his Scooby-Doo pyjama before staring at the small glass bowl in front of him. Creamy rice puffs continued to crackle as they absorbed cold milk while golden eyes filled with wonder peered through a curtain of sandy blonde hair.

"Are you gonna eat it or watch it?"

Dean turned quickly, catching sight of the familiar voice with a smile. John closed the refrigerator door keeping the jar of orange juice close to his chest as he headed across the room to his son. "Dean, eat up buddy. It doesn't stay crispy for long."

Dean wrapped his little hand around the silver spoon sitting on the counter. After piling his spoon up to the brim of the bowl Dean shoved the spoonful into his mouth and let the popping sensation tease his tongue before he started to chew and swallow. It was just the way he liked it with two spoons of sugar on top and just a little more milk then was needed. He swirled his spoon around the milky cereal as he dangled his legs from the kitchen stool he was seated atop. With a Cheshire Cat smile Dean looked up from his breakfast with a quizzical look. "Daddy do you think Mommy's up yet?"

"Not yet pal." John poured his son a small glass of orange juice before he did the same for himself and took the stool next to him at the counter. "Why don't we let her sleep in today."

A frown began to tug at the corners of Dean's mouth as he muttered, "She'll miss cartoons."

"Trust me, they'll still be on when she gets up." John assured his son as he messed up the sandy blonde stands of hair atop his head. Saturday morning cartoons had become a staple in the family ever since Dean had been old enough to identify the start of the weekend. He knew instinctively the day Dad stayed home from work cartoons played all morning. John smiled when he remembered the first time Dean had burst into their bedroom and announced Bugs Bunny was on so it was time to wake up. Mary had smiled brightly, forced John out of bed and the three had spent the next three hours watching animated drawings prance around their television set.

Laughing cherubically and settling himself more firmly into his chair Dean continued to munch happily on his cereal. "Do you think Sammy wants to watch cartoons?"

"I don't know." John answered truthfully with a smile. Dean had adjusted easily to being a big brother and rarely, if ever, excluded little Sammy from family decisions. Four year old Dean had become a model older brother in a shorter time then either Mary or John had expected. Turning away from his eldest son John grinned at his baby boy who had been watching the two of them drink their orange juice thoroughly fascinated. "What do you say, Sammy?"

As though on cue five month old Sam gurgled happily and waved his hands dramatically sensing the attention he was receiving. John pulled Sammy from his highchair and set him on his knee. Sammy started to reach for the colourful glass of juice on the counter in record timing but before he could knock the glass over John pushed it just out of his reach. Sam gave a complaintive cry but settled for playing with the spoon Dean started waving in front of him the moment he finished his cereal.

"Yep, I think Sammy wants to watch cartoons too." John nodded with a somewhat serious expression as Sam bobbled his head, mimicking the nodding gesture Dean was making in an effort to coerce his baby brother.

Mary's lyrical laughter carried through the room suddenly as she watched her son's ear-to-ear smile.

"Mommy!" Dean leapt of his chair and practically jumped into her arms in his excitement. "We're going to watch cartoons!"

"Really?" Mary continued to laugh as Dean raced passed her into the family room. The sound of the television filled the room moments later. "He's getting faster honey. You're not going to be able to keep up with him soon."

"Neither will anyone else. He'll make a great running back."

"Like father like son." Mary winked knowingly and smiled, flashing her blue eyes before stealing John's orange juice. She took a long drink and after setting the glass back down she framed Sammy's face with her palm. "And what plans do you have for little Sammy?"

John watched Mary's expression change when Sammy giggled and reached out for her. He smiled as he wrapped his arm around her waist hugging her as he answered her question. "Only time will tell."

Mary kissed John lightly on the forehead before taking Sammy from him and following their eldest son into the family room. She placed her youngest into his playpen and took a seat on the sofa next to Dean. He was parked in front of the sofa on the carpet watching a Tang commercial. Mary looked up from the television to see John standing in the doorway watching the three of them as though he was trying to memorize the scene. She patted the overstuffed cushion next to her. "The view's better from here."

John took his spot on the sofa next to his wife and sons. Dean was laying on the carpet watching Bugs Bunny call out to Elmer Fudd, 'So long, screwy! See you in St. Louie!' before diving into his rabbit hole. Dean's laughter carried over the television set and Mary gripped John's hand in hers before she set her head on his shoulder. Sam gurgled contently as he watched the screen from his playpen, alternating between chewing on his teddy bear's ear and watching his brother laugh. "I can't believe he'll be six months next week."

"I know." Mary smiled leaning into her husband as she watched Sammy wave his teddy bear at the television.

Dean promptly sat up and turned to look at his parents pensively. "Mommy?"

"Yes sweetheart?"

"I think Sammy wants cake for his birthday." Dean announced cheerfully looking at his baby brother with enthusiasm. Sammy made a sound that could have been agreement before abandoning his teddy bear and falling on to his back. He giggled loudly as he started to try to fix his toes into his mouth. John couldn't help but laugh as he watched his family.

"Really?" Mary laughed softly watching her son's hazel eyes fill with excitement. She elbowed John lightly as he cupped his face in his palms and tried to stifle his chuckling. "What kind of cake do you think he would like?"

Dean's smile was almost raffish as he licked his lips. "Lemon."

"With chocolate icing?" John asked quickly knowing his son well enough to guess his favourite flavour choices. Dean's eyes nearly doubled in size as he nodded vigorously.

"Lemon with chocolate icing it is." Mary chuckled as she squished her nose up making little wrinkles appear above the crinkles. Turning to John with a mischievous grin she added, "But Sammy's still too little to eat cake. Someone's going to have to eat his piece for him. Do you think you manage that honey?"

John hid his smile, forcing his expression to become serious he shrugged lavishly keeping his eyes on Mary but enjoying the way Dean's eyes were bugging out of his skull in the corner of his vision. "I don't know that's a lot of cake, Mary. I might need some help."

"I'll help!" Dean yelped, barely able to contain his excitement a moment longer.

Mary looked down at her little boy tracing her finger along the bridge of his nose and tapping it softly as she asked, "Are you sure sweetheart? That's a lot of cake to eat."

Dean's head bobbled up and down as though he were planted on a dashboard.

"That's settled then. Cake on Wednesday for Sammy." Mary laughed happily before she left the sofa to retrieve her baby boy. Sam cooed cheerfully as she settled him into the crook of her arm. Mary tapped his little button nose softly and whispered, "My, aren't you spoiled little one."

"Good thing your big brother's looking out for you, Sammy." John chortled, wrapping his wife and his son in his arms as Dean returned his attention to television.

Dean made an 'uh-huh' sound and refocused on the TV.

John rubbed his forehead roughly trying to rid his mind of the images that refused to leave him in peace. When he opened his eyes again five year old Sam was sitting in an armchair glued to the television set as Thunder Cats raced around the screen. Dean had long since given up any interest in Saturday morning cartoons. He couldn't blame him. John couldn't stand to watched the animated characters without remembering the last time they had all sat around the television set as a family. If he closed his eyes long enough he could almost feel Mary's head on his shoulder. Hear Dean's laughter as he was lost in a land of make-believe and Sam's mimicking giggle as he listened to his big brother. He'd give anything to hear Dean laugh like that again. Give anything to have Mary bring his hand to her lips as they watched their boys stare in wonder at the lights and colours as they planned their futures. But now five years later Sam was the only one who laughed and stared in awe at the screen on Saturday mornings. John shoved another jacket into his duffel bag before turning to face his eldest son. "Dean-"

"Look out for Sammy." Dean finished evenly before he made a frustrated sound. "Dad, we've been through this a hundred times and you know I'm not stupid."

Dean's words cut John more deeply then he would ever know. John swallowed against the hard knot of pain that rose in his throat as he looked at his son. He wanted to erase the look of pain and maturity that a nine year shouldn't have at that age. But Dean needed that maturity. He needed it as much as he needed that shot gun propped against the doorframe to keep him safe. To keep his brother safe. "I know you're not stupid Dean. But it only takes one mistake."