Supernatural isn't mine
Day two of my self-imposed ficathon challenge, and I'm feeling pretty good. Here, have a crack cliché!
The first thing Dean thought when he woke up to find Sam's bed empty was oh fuck, not this shit again.
Of course, it was only after he'd searched the room twice (and what was the freakin point of that, twice for Christ's sake, it wasn't like you could hide a freakish giant like Sam under the bed), been out to the Impala, and run through his entire litany of curses three and a half times that he slumped down onto Sam's bed (not again, please, I can't do this again) and was kind of surprised (OK, so completely goddamn freaked) to hear it make a squeaking sound that sounded a hell of a lot like a... like a...
Oh fuck, thought Dean, as he hauled back the blankets to see a small face peering up out of a t-shirt that kind of looked like a bedsheet in comparison. Not this shit again.
"I'm telling you, it was that bitch from yesterday," Dean said. "She freakin hated you soon as she laid eyes on you. And she was a witch."
"Dean," said Sam, and then cleared his throat (which he'd been doing after pretty much every single thing he said, not that it helped any). "Dean," he said again, and Dean almost snorted coffee out of his nose at Sam's attempts to make his voice deeper, "just because she had a few crystals in her windows doesn't mean she's a witch."
"She had a black cat, too," Dean pointed out, and shuddered.
Sam rolled his eyes. "Yeah, OK, you've convinced me. Let's burn her."
"Dude, no," Dean said, trying to suppress a grin. "You know only iron works on witches."
"I was referring to... For God's sake, Dean this isn't funny!" Sam clambered off the bed and stood up to his full height of three feet four inches. "Look at me! I'm fucking four years old!"
"Yeah, you're laughing on the other side of your face now, huh?" Dean no longer bothered to hide his amusement (hey, this kind of thing happened to him all the time, and they always figured it out, so it wasn't like this was serious).
Sam glared. "I never laugh at you when you get turned into a kid," he growled – well, actually, he pretty much squeaked it, but Dean could tell he was going for a growl and oh Jesus Christ this was fucking hilarious.
"Dean! Shut the hell up!" Sam was getting good and pissed now, and Dean wondered if maybe he should rein it in a little, but then he got the full force of Sam's annoyance, hands on hips, feet apart, eyebrows drawn down, the whole nine yards, and it just looked so completely wrong, like someone had transplanted an adult's body language onto a kid (which, to be fair, was pretty much exactly what had happened) that Dean actually fell out of his chair laughing.
Sam threw up his tiny hands in exasperation. "For fuck's sake," he muttered. "Let's just go and find the fucking witch."
Sam cursed more now that he was four again, Dean decided. Like, all the time, when they couldn't find anything for him to wear except one of his grown-up t-shirts cinched with a length of rope (Jesus, I look like fucking Robin Hood, and by the way, you don't need to say "grown-up", adult will do just fine, thank you),when he couldn't reach the sink to wash his hands (for Christ's sake, was I ever really this short?), when he couldn't get the heavy handle of the motel room door to turn (fucking bastard goddamn fucking shit). It was pretty funny, but at the same time it was weird, because Sam's voice was kind of... well, it was kind of angelic, high and sweet and clear, and even though Dean knew it was still Sam in there, still his twenty-three-year-old geek brother who'd been in more knife-fights than Dean cared to count and who was almost certainly not a virgin (though you never knew with Sam, the kid could be pretty weird sometimes), he couldn't help but be kind of shocked to hear those words coming out of that little mouth, the face soft and undefined and more vulnerable even than Dean remembered it. OK, so Sam's attempts at cursing were pretty lame (Dean would definitely have said cocksucking son of a whore by now at the very least), but still. It was freaky.
The other freaky thing (well, OK, there were quite a few freaky things, because Sam was four for Christ's sake) was that Dean kept having these urges to make it all better. He knew Sam was just having a major bitchfit, and generally that made him want to either keep poking at him until he achieved complete meltdown (always entertaining) or just ignore him until he was in a better mood, but somehow, tiny bitchfit-Sammy just made Dean want to pick him up and cuddle him until his frown turned upside-down. Which, seriously, frown turned upside-down? What the hell? It was enough to make Dean wonder if he'd been whammied too, because he definitely didn't remember having these reactions the first time Sam had been four.
"You can't ride in the front," he said as Sam started scrambling up onto the passenger seat of the Impala.
Sam gave him a what the fuck? look.
"There's no seatbelts," Dean said, feeling the tips of his ears start to burn.
"There's no seatbelts in the back, either," Sam pointed out, his voice about as cold as a four year old's voice can be (which was actually pretty chilly, Dean noted to his surprise).
"Yee-eah," Dean admitted, "but kids aren't supposed to be in the front without seatbelts."
"You rode in the front of the Impala all the time when you were a kid."
"That's different," Dean said. "I'm older."
Sam managed to simultaneously look like he was about to explode and appear to be the most adorable puppy-faced little boy ever, and Dean had to sit on his hands to keep from ruffling his hair. "Just get in the back, short stuff, or no cartoons for you," he said, trying for gruff and manly. Sam glowered, looked like he was going to argue, then crawled into the back seat.
"I hate you," he said, and that, at least, was familiar from last time.
It was a swanky area, full of imported cars and sweeping driveways (and witches, apparently), and Dean didn't miss the looks he got from joggers and dog-walkers as he pulled up outside the café (pavement freakin café, Jesus Christ). He'd wanted to hold off, drive back to the other side of town and head for more familiar territory, a diner or a kwik-e-mart or whatever, but one glance in the mirror at how miserable and hungry Sam looked had convinced him otherwise. Not that Sam was complaining. Well, he had been, whining in fact, until Dean had informed him he sounded like a four year old. Yeah, that had shut him up pretty quick.
"Here we go, sport," Dean said now, and Sam snorted.
"You know, condescension is the tool of small minds," he said, but he kind of ruined the effect when he couldn't get his tongue round condescension properly.
"Aw, that's cute," Dean snickered. "One day you're going to grow up to be geek captain of the world."
Sam gave Dean the finger (and Christ, even that was cute), and Dean grinned and opened the back door for him (but only after letting him fumble with the handle and curse solidly for a good ten seconds).
"So the witch wasn't there, huh?" Sam asked once they were settled indoors (because maybe the stupid café did have little tables with stripy chairs and flowers outside in the sunshine, but no way was Dean going to sit at one).
"Nope. And to be honest with ya, I'm not convinced it was her any more. That cat looked kind of dumb."
"Oh yeah?" said Sam. "And if it was a smart cat, you think it would advertise that fact?"
Dean stared. "Sam, it was a cat. You know, meow, nice kitty, that kind of thing?"
Sam rolled his eyes and Dean manfully resisted the urge to hug him. "Well, it still could be her. Did you see any occult books or anything that looked out of place?"
Dean shook his head. "I'm telling you, man, it's not her."
"You were the one who said it was her," Sam pointed out. "Did you check for hidden rooms?"
"Would you quit telling me how to do my job?" God, Dean sounded like a jackass, arguing with a four year old, but Sam was bristling now (and damn, that was unfairly adorable), and the constant having to remind himself that his brother was actually still an emo geek twenty-three year old in there was not helping Dean's mood any.
"Well if you'd let me do mine then I wouldn't have to tell you how to do yours," Sam snarled (or squeaked, whatever), and Dean threw up his hands.
"Sam, you're four years old!"
"No, I'm fucking not," Sam yelled, and his little face was starting to go a pretty impressive shade of red. "And you know what? I don't have to do what you say. I've had it with you pushing me around, Dean." And he hopped off the chair and started striding towards the door, which looked utterly bizarre (seriously, people with legs that short should not be able to stride), but was also terrifying, because Dean suddenly became aware that on the other side of that door was a street full of strangers and a fucking road, a road with cars and trucks and goddamn SUVs or whatever, and Dean was out of his seat in a flash and grabbing Sam from behind as he reached for the door handle, hauling him up and into his arms, and Sam was kicking and scratching but Dean bent his head down until it was level with Sam's ear.
"Sam, people are looking," he said, and Sam instantly went quiet and still, his face pale and his hair in disarray. Dean hugged him tight for a moment (it was just to make sure he didn't run off again, OK?) and then let him go. Christ, Sam was just as much of a pain in the ass this times he had been last time he was four, only this time he was kind of an asshole, too.
"All right, fine," said Sam when they were back at their table. "So if it wasn't her then who was it?"
Dean shrugged. "Maybe it's just a freak thing. Maybe you'll turn back by yourself."
Sam shot him a look, but Dean found he couldn't work it out, which was weird because he pretty much had Sam's entire back catalogue of expressions memorised, and he was pretty sure even four-year-old Sam had never looked like that. Maybe it was some weird combination of twenty-three-year-old expression plus four-year-old face that was throwing him off. Whatever, it kind of made him melt (God, he was turning into such a girl).
"You're not serious?" said Sam, and Dean tried to concentrate on the conversation and resist offering to play trains with Sam or whatever. "A freak thing? Like, you think this just happened by itself?"
"Well..." when he put it like that, it did sound kind of dumb. Weird. Why had Dean even thought it? It wasn't like Sam had just come down with the flu or something, he was freakin three feet tall.
Sam narrowed his eyes. "Let's just get the hell out of here," he muttered, and Dean was pretty happy to oblige (seriously, how in God's name did rich people put up with all this olive bread and goat's cheese crap?). Only problem was, when they were halfway to the door, it opened, and a couple of cops appeared and headed straight for Dean. And the first thing Dean thought was oh fuck, not this shit again.
"How old is your son, Mr. Pendergast?" the cop asked, and Dean glanced over to where Sam was sitting a couple of tables away and staring at the second cop like any minute now he was going to bust out all Hulk on him or something.
"He's my brother," Dean said, hoping Sam was saying the same thing. "And he's four. But he's very mature for his age."
The cop raised an eyebrow. "Where are his parents?"
"They're out of town right now," Dean said, mentally cataloguing everyone in the café so that later on he could figure out which one of them had called the freakin cops and gut them slowly. "I'm looking after the little b-- squirt."
"I see," said the cop, writing something down. "Do you have any experience with looking after children?"
"Uh..." Dean stopped himself from saying yeah, I practically raised my geek brother, and he turned out OK, because, well, right now Sam kind of wasn't OK, and also, confusing. "I got some."
"Uh-huh," the cop said, in a tone that said that Dean was about as convincing as Nightmare on Elm Street Four. At the next table, Dean heard Sam's high-pitched voice rise slightly in annoyance. "I understand that you had something of an argument earlier," the cop continued, and this time, he glanced over at Sam, and Dean followed his eyes and his heart sank when he saw a kid, a goddamn toddler, wearing a fucking t-shirt like a tunic and sporting a pretty ugly-looking bruise on his forearm (and shit, shit, Dean hadn't done that had he, fuck, had he actually hurt his little brother?)
"Well, you know," Dean said, clearing his throat, which was suddenly kind of dry, "he's my bro, you know? Sometimes things get a little physical."
He knew as soon as he'd said it that it was absolutely the wrong thing to say, that he might as well have stood up and announced to the entire world that he liked to eat kittens for breakfast (which, gross), and now the cop was looking at him with undisguised suspicion. At the same moment, Sam's voice got even louder, so that Dean could make out what he was saying. And what he was saying was for fuck's sake, no, he doesn't fucking touch me in inappropriate places, OK?
Dean felt a flush rise to his cheeks, and he grinned weakly and said, "Those neighbourhood kids, they're a real bad influence, you know?"
"Mr. Pendergast, I think you're going to have to come with us," the cop said, and Dean closed his eyes for a moment and wondered how this had all gone so horribly wrong. People were staring now, staring at this young guy with a foul-mouthed kid who was being dragged off by the fuzz, and Dean could see it in their eyes, bad parent, bad parent, and all he could think was Jesus, I'm doing the best I can.
"OK, well," Dean said, trying not to look guilty, "What about Sammy?"
"We'll take him with us," the cop said. "We just want to ask you a few more questions."
The other one was moving now, trying to hold Sam's hand, and Sam snatched it away and muttered you have got to be kidding me in that special tone he had where he wanted to make sure that everyone could hear him. Dean tried to remember all the things that Dad used to say when the CPS people came round, but he was pretty sure he had already fucked this one up real good. As they left, Sam shot him another look, but once again, Dean didn't know what it meant.
All right, so, the fact that Dean was locked up in an interview room in the cop shop was not a problem. Nope, no sirree bob, no problem at all. That didn't mean Dean had no problems to be getting on with, though; in fact, he had one very big one, and that was how to find a twenty-three-year-old midget in amongst half the city's finest without getting caught in the process. The first part of his plan involved punching out anyone who stood between him and Sam, and he was just weighing up whether this was actually a good plan or not when he heard a scraping at the lock of the room he was in, and sat down quickly at the table.
The scraping just when on, though, without the door being opened, and eventually he heard a muffled but unmistakably high-pitched curse, and the door swung open to reveal a very pissed-looking Sam.
"Didn't feel like giving me hand, there, huh?" he said.
Dean jumped up and crossed to the door, checking the corridor for wandering cops. "You're the one with his own custom-made picks," he pointed out.
"Yeah, well, they're in my jeans," Sam held up a paperclip and waggled his fingers, "and you try doing this when your hand's about ten times smaller than it used to be."
"OK, let's go," said Dean, and he scooped up Sam, who for once didn't complain, thank Christ, just quietly reeled off instructions for getting to the back door, and it turned out that he was still pretty good at planning ahead, which was something to be grateful for, Dean supposed.
They made it out to the parking lot without incident, but Dean still had a problem. "Sam," he said, "your arm..."
Sam looked down at the bruise, huge and purple, turning black at the edges. "Yeah?" he said.
"I didn't... I mean, when I grabbed you..."
Sam snorted. "Jesus, Dean. That poltergeist smacked me with a shovel two days ago, remember?
And Dean did remember, of course he did, he remembered Sam grunting and the loud crack the shovel had made as it hit his arm, and the bruise must have been huge if it had shrunk along with the rest of Sam. But at the time, he hadn't even really noticed, he'd just thought it was normal. And that? That was some fucked-up shit, right there.
"I can't believe you said sometimes things get physical," Sam said. "I swear, if anyone ever asks me to show them where my brother touches me on the doll again, I'm going to bite their kneecaps."
"You know, this is going to make things a whole lot trickier," Sam said, clambering into the chair, then frowning. His chin was level with the laptop's keyboard, and he rolled his eyes and clambered off again, going in search of something to sit on.
"We do most of our research on the internet anyway," Dean pointed out, grabbing the pillows off the bed and arranging them on the chair, then lifting Sam up putting him gently down on top.
Sam scowled at him. "I can do it myself," he said. "And how long do you think we'll have to stay out of town before the cops forget about you?"
Dean shrugged. "Maybe we can go back at night. Hell, it might not have been anything in the town anyway. It's not like we haven't made a few enemies over the last few years."
Sam groaned. "Don't even say that, Dean. God, we're never going to find a cure." He started typing, only to growl and curse. "These fucking fingers are totally useless," he said, staring at them like they'd just run over his dog or something. "Jesus, how do four year olds even cope with this crap?"
"Well, most of them are too busy having fun to want to type a load of shit on their laptops," Dean pointed out. "Maybe you should just enjoy it while it lasts?"
Sam stared at him like he'd just suggested they should go to a strip joint or something (which, normally Dean totally would have, but he suspected explaining to the doorman that his brother was over twenty-one, he was just really, really short, would not be the best way of avoiding the cops). "What the hell are you talking about?"
"You know," Dean said, even though it was totally goddamn obvious that Sam didn't. "Being a kid is awesome. No worries, no responsibility, you can just play cops and robbers all day or whatever. Have some fun."
"Yeah, that's great, Dean, except I'm not a kid," Sam said, and the soft skin of his face seemed stretched too tight suddenly. "You get that, don't you? It's still me in here."
Dean shrugged. "What's the difference?"
Sam's eyebrows shot up. "The...difference?" he said. "Jesus! The difference is that I can't be a kid again. I can't just pretend my entire life hasn't happened and I'm in some state of primordial innocence just because that's what you see when you look at me. I can't just pretend that's everything's OK. God, I don't even want to be a kid again. I want to be in control of my own fucking life, my own fucking body, goddammit."
"But--" Dean stopped, horrified to see tears coursing down Sam's cheeks. "Hey, hey, Sammy," he said, "why are you crying?"
Sam shook his head, brushing the tears away angrily. "I don't know, I don't even... I'm just so tired."
Dean glanced at the clock; it was four in the afternoon. "Hey," he said quietly, and picked Sam up from the top of the chair, carrying him over to the bed. Sam buried his face in Dean's chest and bawled, and Dean stroked the back of his head and made nonsensical soothing noises, and remembered what this was like, to be so needed.
After a while, Sam's sobs quietened, and a minute or so later, a sleepy voice said, "Dude, are you cuddling me?"
"Yeah," said Dean. "Yeah, Sammy, I am."
Sam shifted, tensed for a moment and then relaxed. "It's Sam," he said, his voice still muffled by Dean's shirt.
"No way," Dean replied. "Not this time."
He felt a huff of breath against his chest, but Sam let it go. "We're going to fix this, though, right Dean?" he said, and Dean could tell that he wasn't really awake any more.
"Yeah, Sammy, I'm gonna fix it," Dean said. "Everything's gonna be OK."
And it would, he was pretty sure of that. But for right now, he was kinda OK with things the way they were.