It's Raining Soap Bubbles!
Disclaimer: I own nothing supernatural related. Isn't that sad?
Summery: John just wanted to spend the day with his boys.
A/N: Part of the Picture Perfect 'verse.
It's Raining Soap Bubbles!
John went through the list again, nodding to himself as he checked things off in his head. Raising his brow as he watched the next item on the list. No way in hell. Too much sugar. Sam didn't need help in that department, thank you very much. Dean's writing was getting much better though. No more mirror letters.
He pushed the cart over to the next isle, picking the cereal with the least bit of sugar he could find, and looked down at the list again. Off to the frozen foods section next. He hesitated a moment; he was really missing home-cooked meals. For a moment, he considered trying to cook something. Something that wasn't spaghetti, that didn't come from a box, something that actually required some work. And cooking stills. Which he did not have. Damn. The frozen foods section it was, then.
A woman tried to pick him up. He played dumb. Not his type anyway.
She wasn't Mary. No one will ever be Mary.
The woman was persistent though, following him around, smiling broadly, flaunting her fake boobs at him. She was harder to shake than a hell hound, so he finally asked her if she knew where the kids' toys isle was, saying he wanted to get something for his boys. Worked better than a silver bullet to the heart. John tried not to seem too pleased as he turned his back to her and wondered over to the kids' section.
He hung around there for just as long as it took him to go from one side of the isle to the other. Wasn't really looking at the toys. Couldn't afford them anyway. But still, near the end of the isle, something had caught his eye. John moved closer, hesitating. He stood there for nearly ten minutes, reaching his hand, hesitating, pulling back and still hesitating.
Dean used to love this. Mary used to love this. They all loved it. Should he? No. Mary was gone. It wouldn't be the same. It wouldn't be… But in the end, he'd reached out and grabbed three, dumping them in the cart and going back to the frozen foods section.
"Daddy's home! Daddy's home!"
John nearly stumbled as something latched itself firmly to his leg. He smiled down at his youngest, trying to regain his balance. He called for his oldest, passing the lighter paper bag over to him and picking Sammy up in his free hand. He grunted a little.
"Ooh, you're getting heavy." John said as Sammy wrapped his little hands around John's neck. "You okay there with that bag, Dean?" John called out. The grocery bag might have been a little heavy for the six year old. No answer was coming from the kitchen. "Dean?" John called out again.
"Yes, sir." Dean answered at last, coming out of the kitchen. John sat Sam down and put the other grocery bag in the kitchen.
"You boys stay here, I have another bag in the car." John said, turning for the door. "And I have a surprise for you." he added with a slow smile.
"A su'p'ise? What is it, Daddy? What is it?" Sam asked eagerly, firmly attaching himself to John's leg again. The kid was worse than Velcro.
"Wouldn't be a surprise if I told you, would it?" John asked. Sam considered it for a moment, looking up at his father.
"Come on, monkey boy, your show's on." Dean said, peeling his brother away from his father's leg and dragging him over to the bedroom to watch TV. John grinned when he heard his youngest ask his brother about his new nickname, and if it meant the surprise was going to the zoo. God, he loved his boys.
John put the last bag on the rickety table in the kitchen and started putting the groceries away. Sam had come into the kitchen in search for his surprise twice, until Dean threatened him with changing the channel. John grimaced. His youngest sure had a set of lungs on him.
"Daddy!" Sam soon came crying, "Dean's being mean!" he pouted, holding his hands up for John to pick him up. "Tell him he's being mean!" little Sam demanded.
"Sam! Get back here!"
"No!" Sam yelled. "And Daddy's weally mad at you!" he added indignantly.
"Sam," John said in warning. It was difficult, trying to explain to the newly two year old when it was okay to lie, and when it was wrong. Sammy looked up at his father, all wide-eyed and innocent, and John groaned. "Be nice to your brother." He said. Sam shrugged, pouting.
"Don't wanna. He's mean!" he said. "You can tell me the su'p'ise now. I won't tell Dean."
"Sam!" John warned again, and Sam sighed dramatically, wrapping his little arms around John's neck and resting his head on his father's shoulder. Damn. The Doomsday Weapon. The sneaky bastard. John shook his head, putting the little boy back down, just in time to catch a glimpse of his oldest. Man, that kid was quiet when he wanted to be. "Hey, kiddo. Get over here."
Dean got in the kitchen, eyes firmly on the ground, shoulders hunched. Kid probably thought John really was mad at him. John ruffled his son's blonde hair. It was far too long, long enough to cover the boy's face. "Hey," John said again, "You want to see what I got you?"
Dean did look up at that, and John really couldn't read the expression on his face. It was something like reliefhesitationhappinessuncertaintyguilt. So, pretty much why John figured that the parenting thing? Totally should come with a built-in manual.
John reached for the last bag on the table, giving it to Dean. Dean looked at John for permission first, before even considering looking at it. Sam, on the other hand, was bouncing on the balls of his feet, trying to snatch the bag away. Dean used to be like that. Before. Sometimes John couldn't even recognize his eldest. He nodded his permission and Dean looked in the bag. That was the moment John had been waiting for. From the moment he'd seen it in the store, from the moment he'd put it in his cart, he'd wanted to see the look on Dean's face when he saw it.
Dean wrinkled his face, looking uncertainly at his father again, and John smiled. "Go ahead, take it out." He said.
Still looking a little uncertain, Dean reached inside the paper bag and pulled out a bright red plastic bottle. John watched as Dean turned the bottle in his hand, watched as understanding dawned on the boy. Dean looked up at him again, and John gave him a little nod, hoping that was what Dean's been waiting for.
"Come on, we can go outside the back. There's plenty for all of us." John said, taking the other two bottles out of the bag, handing one to Sam.
Sam turned the bottle in his little hands, frowning. "What is it, Daddy?" he asked.
"It's soap." Dean said at last, a tiny smile gracing his lips. Sam glared at his father.
"No bath!" he said vehemently, and John had a sudden déjà vu moment. But then Dean laughed, and it was almost the way he used to laugh, Before. Almost. The closest Dean's laugh ever got to the carefree, joyous laughed from Before.
"No, silly." He told his little brother, who was looking suspiciously at him. Tricking Sam into taking a bath was a whole lot harder than it had been for Dean. "This is a special soap. For bubbles." The older brother explained. Sam narrowed his eyes, re-examining the bright red bottle in his little hand for a long moment.
"Bubbles?" he asked, wonder in his voice, making John smile.
"Come on. Let's go out back, blow some bubbles. What do you say?" they didn't say anything, really. Just rushed out the back door and into the messy backyard.
Sam shoved his bottle in Dean's face in excitement. "Show me, Dean! Show me bubbles!" he demanded, waving the bottle. Dean nodded, but had some problem opening the cap on his own bottle. John helped him, twisting the cap off of both boys' bottles.
Dean expertly dunk the little stick in the soapy water, and then took it out, blowing a long string of bubbles. John grinned wider than he did in two years as he watched Sam's eyes widen in marvel and awe, as he heard the toddler gasp.
"I wanna! I wanna!" Sam cried, opening his bottle and trying to blow bubbles without properly dunking the stick, frowning when nothing but a blob of soap came out. He scrunched up his face, eyes welling up. "Mine doesn't wok!" he sniffled, then started crying, "Mine's boken!" he cried.
"Sammy, use your r's." Dean reminded him, "And it's not broken, you just don't know how to do it right." The older boy said, and then kneeled next to his brother and showed him the right way. Sam squealed with joy when he managed to blow his first bubbles. He hugged his brother, spilling a generous amount of his water onto Dean's shirt.
They spent the next twenty minutes blowing soap bubbles at each other, with Sam shrieking with joy, alternating between blowing his own bubbles, and chasing the bubbles around, spilling his soap water in his excitement.
"More, Dean! More bubbles!" the little boy demanded, jumping gleefully and trying to pop more bubbles. He shrieked when a the soap from a bursting bubble got in his eye and started crying, until John picked him up, cleaned his eye, and blew some more bubbles at him.
"Sammy, you have bubbles on your head!" Dean laughed, pointing. Sam tried to look, which was funny onto itself, and then just shrugged and demanded more bubbles.
"More bubbles?" John asked. "Ooh, now you've done it. Now it's gonna rain soap bubbles!" the father promised and started blowing as many bubbles as he could all around the delighted toddler. "You better get an umbrella, Sammy, it's pouring!"
Mary gasped, eyes going wide. "Dean, look up! It's coming!" The little two years old squinted at the skies.
"What's coming, Mommy?"
"The rain clouds, silly." Mary smiled, and Dean looked up again, frowning when all he saw was clear blue skies.
"I don't see any clouds." He said.
"Oh, but they're coming. It's gonna rain real hard soon." Mary grinned mischievously. The toddler looked up again.
Mary raised a brow. "But if there aren't any clouds, how come it's… Raining soap bubbles!" she cried, just as both she and John started showering the little boy with soap bubbles, Dean shrieking with joy and trying to catch the bubbles in his chubby hands…
"Come on, Dean, give your old man a hand here, would you? This is barely a drizzle. Show your brother what a real soap bubble storm looks like!" John smiled, winking at his oldest. His smile faded, though, as he caught the sight of his son's face. "Dean?"
Dean dropped his bottle, the remaining water spilling out. "I don't wanna play anymore." The little boy said, rushing back inside. John looked after him, frowning.
"More rain bubbles, Mommy! More bubbles!"
John sighed, cursing inwardly.
"More rain bubbles, Daddy! More bubbles!" Sam demanded, and John's heart clenched. He gave his own bottle to his youngest, leaving him alone in the back yard as he went after his oldest.
He found Dean sitting behind the bathroom door. The boy was getting too good at this, at hiding and sneaking around. He never would have found the kid if he hadn't heard the soft sniffling. This was going to be a problem when puberty hits, but it was too far away for John to care about it right now.
John sat on the bathroom floor next to his son, wrapping a hand around his son's small shoulders. Dean looked away. John pulled him closer, resting his chin on the boy's head.
"You know, I really miss her, too." John said softly.
"This is Mommy's game." Dean said so quietly John had nearly missed it. "Mommy used to like bubbles."
"Yes, she did." John said. "You used to like it, too." He added. Dean said nothing, his body still tense, still trying to pull away. "You know, Sammy was too little to really remember her." John added.
"I know." Dean said.
"And this, soap bubble rain, it was her game." John went on. Dean remained quiet. "And maybe, by playing it with your brother… Maybe if we explain it to him, it'll help him remember her, too." John said.
Dean looked up at his father then, eyes brimming with tears and lower lip trembling. "I really miss her." He choked out. John hugged him.
"I know you do, kiddo." He said, a little choked himself.
"I don't want to play anymore." Dean said again. John was silent for a long moment, not sure what the right thing to say was.
"I think she'd be sad to know that." He said finally, hoping his voice didn't tremble. "I think she'd want you to play. I think she'd want you to teach Sammy, so that you'd both remember her every time you play." John said thickly. Dean looked up at him, doing his best not to cry. A couple of tears escaped though, big and warm.
"I think, your Mommy is up in Heaven, and she's watching over you." John went on. "I think it would make her happy to see you and your brother…" he didn't go on. Couldn't. Dean looked up at him again, raising one shoulder.
"I don't want to play anymore Daddy." He said. Please don't make me.
"Okay, Dean. Okay." John said, and for a long moment, he just held his boy to him, saying nothing.
"But I'll tell Sammy. I'll tell him about Mom and the bubbles. He can still play if he wants to." Dean said at last. John forced himself to smile, kissing the top of his boy's head.
"I think your Mommy would like that." He said, and held onto Dean when the boy hugged him. "Hey, you know, I bought ice cream, cookies and chocolate syrup..." John said a moment later, winking at his son as Dean looked up at him. "Ready for a duel?" He asked, wiggling his eyebrows. Dean snorted.
"Not much of a duel. You and Sammy always get ice cream headaches." he smirked.