... or it coulda been like this... – part 3
The sound of light things shattering or clattering was followed by a much more frightening sound of something very heavy moving very suddenly.
Jim leaped the last half dozen steps barely ducking out of the way of a throwing star coming frighteningly close to where he'd been a moment before. On his way to the storage shelf he began to chant.
"Jim! A little help!" John called then shouted in pain as something heavy thumped and crashed in the Pastor's 'private' office.
"Coming..." he called back making sure his flask was full of holy water. He pocketed another rosary, grabbed another coil of rope since he was fairly certain Dean's 'guest' had managed to finally break free of the other one, and made sure the key for his desk drawer was in his pocket. That was where he needed to get to, that's where the most ancient and most potent weapons he had in his arsenal were.
"GET OUT OF MY SON!" John roared, his arms clasped tightly around Dean, pinning them to his sides while the young boy bucked, writhed, kicked and undoubtedly was cursing him. "Hurry Jim..." he strained.
Jim made a hasty slip-knot in the rope then dropped it over Dean's shoulders. He was starting to cinch it tight when the being in the elder son doubled over, then jerked backwards, literally throwing both men, and the rope off. He stood before both men who now lay on the floor each sprawled stunned, John bleeding from several cuts and scratches, Jim from a small gash that came when his head impacted with the corner of a trunk.
The thing inside Dean cocked the boys' head then moved to the desk where he threw open a couple drawers, easily finding one of the things he wanted.
John could see Jim was having a hard time getting his sight straight after that blow to his head. He moved stealthily, his hand slowly getting to the knot Jim had twisted into the rope, while his son rifled through the Pastor's desk, all too quickly finding what he wanted. A knife.
He barked something in that language, the knife cart-wheeling over the desk to sink all the way through John's right hand. The pain hit a second later, a scream pounding at the back of his teeth to get out. It came for John, one hand grasping his hair, yanking his head backwards, the other grasped the knife then ripped it from his hand making the man dizzy with another wave of agony to add to his growing list. The thing inside his son stood over him, the knife edge pressed firm and definitely cutting against his throat. It spoke again, the sweat running down his boys' face in red droplets, it punctuated its point with an increase in pressure against the blade making it impossible for John to swallow for the moment certain that any motion would force that keen edge deeper into his skin. In a flash it was over. John registered the impact at the same time the lights went out inside of him.
The being inside Dean then turned its sights on Jim, speaking to him as well, before knocking him also into unconsciousness. While they were out, it made sure to bind them both tightly.
As he reached for the stairs he knew he didn't belong there, he knew if he didn't accomplish his mission soon that his 'invasion' would kill the child. ...better to lose an innocent to alter what is destined to come than to lose all the others who will suffer without cause... he will not be able to fight what's to come...
"He WILL, he will... I swear he will...! I'll help him! Whatever it is! We'll fight it together! It's NOT his fault! You can't take him from me!... he hasn't done anything wrong!"
He will murder the world!
"Wha...no... you're crazy!"
Dean's hands clutched at the railing his head was spinning, his body verging on collapse, he wanted it to collapse, he wanted this thing OUT of him! If his body failed, fell or if he could just get enough control over it... but the one inside him was strong. It, well he thought, felt, his heart was certain that somehow Dean's baby brother, the last best present he ever got in his whole life could hurt their whole world. There were words like, prophecy, and destiny, and apocalypse that somehow all, to this creature at least, meant the end. But there was more inside this creature, things he didn't want to believe, things he didn't want to hear, or think could be true, some were words others had called him; heretic, fanatic, zealot, to name a few and while Dean had heard the word 'fanatic' before he'd never known what it meant. Only now while he fought to exhaust his body to the point where it would be useless, while he screamed, raged, and cried inside himself at the thought of any harm coming to one of the two things in life that meant everything to him, let alone at his own hand, he began to understand the flavor of those words if not their literal meaning. But there were other words as well, words he knew so well that they comprised all the good things that kept him whole, hope, faith, and most importantly, love the keystone of life itself. These were the words, the feelings, the everythings that something inside him knew would save the world, just like he would find a way to save his little brother, the child he'd been entrusted with. In effect HIS child.
"Don't you hurt him! I'll tell him to run! So help me! I'll tell him to run so far so fast I'll never let you find him! You'll die in here with me! I don't want to die... can't you please just leave? Leave us alone? PLEASE... I don't want to die..." Dean screamed and pleaded with the being inside, his rage and fear coming to a point within, finding a moment of power that almost took control from the ancient man-being.
He was almost at the landing, just a few more stairs to go until he could reach the door knob, until he could kill the toddler before it could be used to destroy the world he and his kin had made, before they'd been given one of their own.
Before so many of them were... no... I must stop this... I failed to save so many of my own people... I will not fail to keep my oath...
"HOW CAN KILLING A CHILD GRANT REDEMPTION?!" something, heavy, deep and mature challenged firmly from somewhere inside the elder brother.
A sacrifice... a single sacrifice... that's all it is...one life lost... maybe two... surely... he countered, something in his demeanor shifting, something in that voice had unnerved him.
"The children belong to me! Through all the ages of this world they are mine and you would DARE to bring harm to them?!" Dean didn't quite know where this voice or these words were coming from but he was certain of one thing, he was exhausted and his hand had just turned the knob at the top of the stairs.
It must be done...to save the world you have given them... to fulfill my vow... you know as well as I what will come...
"Dean?" Sam startled out of his reverie as the basement door opened and his big brother crawled out of the doorway before falling face first onto the floor. Still squeezing the pillow, he put the coloring book and crayon on the couch then scooted toward the edge, turning onto his belly to slide down.
"...ammy...g'way... nuh..." Dean grunted while the two voices were arguing inside him. One seemed much older, wiser, and seemed to give him some kind of comfort with its presence. Even the one that wanted to 'sacrifice' his baby brother couldn't help but listen to it.
"Dean?" Sam asked again, inching forward, "...are you all better now?"
"No...Sam... g'way... please..." he grunted, his fingers digging into the nap of the rug, trying to pull himself forward.
Sam stood where he was, uncertain what to do, daddy and Jim weren't there... they went where Dean come out of ... why they're not comin'? he wondered.
"Where's daddy?" he asked barely above a whisper, something was wrong. He wanted to run, his insides were telling him to run away, to hide better than he ever did before but he couldn't. Dean was sick. When HE was sick daddy and Dean stayed with him so he had to stay with his big brother.
He watched Dean's head bounce off the floor while his body rested, his chest heaving with every breath. Slowly he circled around to the side, eyes saucer wide, thumb in mouth and pillow dragging on the floor. He froze as Dean moved, his arms pushing against the floor, bringing him up to all fours, he was still heaving for breath, and red drips fell into the carpet from his soaking wet hair and the tip of his nose. Slowly he pushed himself back until he sat on his heels, the green-gold eyes with the funny pupils looked at him. Red tears spilled down his cheeks and Dean's mouth bowed trembling downward. Dean's hand reached out toward Sam quaking from shoulder to fingertip.
Sam took a step forward.
Dean's head shook, his mouth formed the word, "No..." but could not speak it.
Sam stepped backward.
"Sammy!" rolled roaring up from the stairwell drawing his attention away from his brother.
Hands grasped him, one around the chest, the other over his mouth, then snugged his body against Dean's chest. Slowly his feet left the ground while that strange rhythm whispered into his ear even as he screamed until he started to choke.
"No!... don't you touch him!...don't you touch my boys!" rolled up from downstairs, distance weakening the threat as Sam was carried into Jim's office, the door closed behind them, effectively sealing out the voice of the children's father.
At the pastor's desk, one arm swept away the clutter leaving Sam free to scream until he felt lips atop his head.
The desk was clear, the hand that had covered his mouth stroked his hair while his brother's lips moved against his head. When he quieted he could feel his brother rocking just a little.
"Dean...no...no no no Dean..." Sam shook his head. The feel of his big brother's body against his, so much like the way Dean held him at night sometimes when something scared him, or when Sam got scared and climbed into bed with him on his own, was a comfort that the littlest son couldn't deny. As he was set down onto the desk, Dean's hand pushing his head back until he lay flat something stilled Sam. "...no wanna go 'way bye bye..." His breath still hitched and trembled in his chest, tears still flowed from his eyes even though the ones he was looking into weren't Dean's and it seemed, as Dean's arm raised above his head, blood covered knife poised above the baby's chest he had to sniffle it one last time, "No Dean...please... love you..."
"SAMMY! I love you too Sammy... please GOD HELP ME! DON'T take my brother away from me!" he screamed inside himself.
I have to... it must be done...
"No Anunnaki my son... listen to the children... hear them... they ARE hope. Let them go..." that older, wiser voice soothed.
No...I cannot... it cannot...can it?...Can it be so?
"It IS so...please..."
Sam watched Dean's arm throw the knife across the office so it stuck wiggling in the wall. He got to his knees on the desk when his brother's hand fell away and his body fell out of sight.
"Dean?" he questioned sniffing away his tears and wiping his nose on his shirt. His brother was on his knees in the middle of the floor, his body almost ramrod straight, his mouth open toward the ceiling in a soundless scream and though it looked as if something was climbing out of his throat Sam couldn't see anything. As one thing seemed to leave Sam's older brother, another seemed to come up, moving from his feet upwards to the top of his head, fine bands of golden light traveled the course of his body until it seemed to glow just a tiny bit through all of him. The golden light brought a grin to Sam's face, then slowly faded away just before Dean fell over.
Sam screamed, "DEAN!"
He turned himself quickly onto his belly letting himself over the edge of the desk, his feet flailing mere inches from the floor. He let go landing on his feet, surprising himself for a split second before falling to his knees at his big brothers' side "Dean?" he slapped his cheek until jade green eyes met his.
"Sammy?" he grunted.
"Your uh-oh gone?" Sam asked trying to help him sit up.
"Think so..." Dean nodded looking around, "Where's dad?" he asked.
"Downstairs... you lef him downstairs..."
"Oh no...Sam... Sammy listen to me kay?" Dean groaned barely above a whisper, "You stay here...you gotta be the lookout while I get dad..." What'd I do? what'd that THING do?... what happened? he wondered as events blurred together in a haze.
"Wanna go with you!" Sam protested.
"Please Sam... please...stay...I'll be back..." he pleaded.
Sam pouted, "Promise?"
"Yeah I promise..." he nodded stumbling toward the door.
Tears of grateful relief misted his eyes when he opened it to hear his father's voice yelling threats and curse words meeting him half way on the stairs.
"Dean!?" John shouted when his first born stumbled into the room. He examined his boy closely as he set to work on the ropes binding him.
In moments John was on his knees, his hands on his son's shoulders, his eyes delving deep, beseeching, searching for any signs of the being, any sign that this was NOT his boy in front of him.
"Dad..." Dean sighed smiling faintly into the darkness that took him, landing him in his father's arms.
"DaaaaaaDY!... DEAN!" Sam's voice shouted down the stairs followed by a series of soft 'floomps' and lots of little boy shuffling.
"We're okay Sam... we're okay," John laid his eldest on the floor so he could untie Jim.
When he turned back with Jim at his side Sam was sitting at Dean's head stuffing the classic car pillow under him, where it belonged. When he was satisfied with his brother's head being on the pillow 'enough', the littlest Winchester looked up at John and Jim, one chubby hand absently petting his exhausted big brother's red sweat soaked hair, the thumb of his other hand secure in his mouth, around it his lips were smiling and his little chest rose in a deep sigh.
"Dean? What's the matter dude?" John asked, though his heart wasn't taking off racing in a blind panic toward some cliff in his chest, it unnerved him to find his first born scrunched in the corner of his bed with his knees to his chest, his eyes never moving from where Sam slept just a few feet away.
Dean shook his head but scooted toward the foot of the bed, he didn't want to wake Sam if he could help it, so followed his dad out into the living room.
"What is it? What's wrong?" John asked watching as Dean left the door open just a crack, taking one last peek at his brother. He led John to the kitchen area, got himself a glass of water then sat at the table where his father was already sitting patiently, sipping from his beer.
"You said I could talk to you about anything right?" he asked.
"Yeah, of course..." John nodded.
"You won't laugh?" he asked.
"I'm scared dad..." he looked intensely into his water glass.
"Of anything in particular?... or just in general?" John asked.
"Both?" Dean arched his eyebrow at his dad meeting his eyes, then breathed a heavy sigh, "Dad... I HURT SAM... I almost even killed him... a couple a times... what if... what if it's not done... what if it's like... waiting... what if it comes back... or comes out again, what if I do something that hurts my little brother... besides you... he's all I got... and he's all I got left of..." then he felt the tears come, he ducked his head but John would have none of it. He levered his son's face upward with a finger until their eyes met.
"He's all you have left of your mother..." John finished for him.
"Yeah..." he choked, "...and he still... he still trusts me dad... he still loves me... even after everything... and I know it's crazy but you know... you were right... you always said he was mine... and well he's ours, but he's MINE dad... my little brother... and I coulda..." he couldn't continue.
John shook his head feeling his own eyes mist up, after all, it's hard to watch someone you love cry and not want to join them. He cupped his boy's face in his hand, his thumb sweeping away at some of the tears as they fell while he smiled softly.
"Dean... YOU never hurt him, in the end YOU didn't let anything happen to Sam...In the end YOU protected him from something... well we're not sure what..." he admitted, "What DO you remember from the last couple nights?"
Dean shook his head, "Feelings... the thing that tried to... that wanted to... hurt Sam... it was scared of him... but then..." he shook his head again, his face screwing up in concentration, "... but...then there was something warm and golden... kinda like late afternoon sun in the field behind Uncle Bobby's house in the summer y'know?..." he frowned looking into his father's eyes, "... then it was okay... I kinda felt like it feels after throwing up a real lot... kinda empty and gurgly, but not just in the belly... kinda all over..." he sighed then hung his head again, "Sorry dad... that's all..."
"T'sokay son... that's real good in fact..." John nodded grateful that Dean's memory of the events of the last two days seemed to be waning quickly. He knew that for his son's to both survive in the world he'd discovered really DID exist, they'd have to be prepared, they'd have to know they could rely on each other through everything, that there wasn't anything they couldn't say to each other or to him. Their lives, their future would depend on truthful disclosure, at least to each other and to me... they're going to learn about the things that go bump in the night far too soon as it is... Please God, give them a chance to be children for just a little while longer. He prayed just a little.
"DEEEEAAAANNNN!" Sam howled from the bedroom, startling both of the elder Winchesters out of their chairs, "DEEAAAANNN!" he cried again as John let his big boy enter the room first, tossing the door open, flipping the light switch, his breath short in his chest, his eyes wide.
"Sam? What's wrong?" he asked looking at his little brother's bottom sticking out from underneath his bed. Sam squirmed backwards from under the old box spring, tears on his cheeks an odd contrast to the smile that blossomed on his mouth.
...bruises... I did that... my hands did that... Dean gasped softly, his arms wrapping instinctively around Sam when he plowed into him clumsily.
"Where were you?!" he demanded half angry, half scared by his brother's absence.
"Just talkin' t'dad runt..." Dean stroked Sammy's hair. He felt his little brother step onto his feet and waddle walked him back toward the bed.
"Nuh uh... wanna sleep with you..." Sam said around his thumb while shaking his head.
Dean cast a glance over his shoulder at John who stood smiling in the doorway watching his littlest boy work healing magic on his eldest. He nodded watching Dean turn then lift Sam onto his bed.
"Did you have a bad dream?" he asked.
Sam shook his head.
"Well then what's the matter?"
"Then why don't you wanna sleep in your own bed?" Dean asked.
"'Cause...wanna sleep with you... you're MY Dean..." Sam shrugged, half pouting half smiling and all big eyes on his brother.
"Sam aren't you scared of me?" Dean asked, the question choking John with it's sincerity and confusion.
"Uh uh..." Sam shook his head.
"But I hurt you Sammy... I hit you and stuff... I'm sorry y'know?..."
"I know...You din't... not you... I'n not scared of MY Dean..." Sam shook his head smiling with his hand on Dean's chest. The three year old Winchester sighed blowing a shank of hair out of his face as if it should be plain for everyone to see, he slapped his little palm over his brother's heart, "My Dean wants me... you said yes... and you love me... an' it din't hurt me cause you love me and you said so...see..." Sam looked up at the doorway, "Right daddy?" he asked for confirmation.
John took it as an invitation. He sat on the bed looking at his sons, his heart full with warmth and pride in them, in how openly they could still show their love for each other. How easy it was at that age, and he envied them.
"Right... now... both of you... scoot down," he lifted the blanket over them both as the phone began to ring. "Alright..." he kissed each of their foreheads, "...tuck each other in now..."
"We will dad..." Dean smiled drawing his brother into his embrace.
"Nite daddy..." Sam waved then stuck his thumb back into his mouth turning in Dean's arms then managing to smack him with a soggy digit as he adjusted himself.
"Eeew runt!...you're gonna drool all over my pillow..." Dean groaned.
"Will too... listen... you gotta quit sucking your thumb... you've been a really good big-boy... so no more goobers all over everything okay?" Dean smirked hooking his pinky through Sam's.
"No goobers... rasinets..." Sam shook his head watching Dean swing their hands in the air, locked together by their little fingers.
No that kind of goober... aww skip it... "Maybe tomorrow 'kay?"
John stood at the little phone stand, watching his sons through the crack in the door. He saw Sam's fist wrap into Dean's t-shirt, wiping his hand dry.
"... but he wouldn't say over the phone?" John asked softly watching his boys, watching Dean grinning, wiggling his finger at Sam who twitched and squealed as he pretended to go for a direct rib-tickle. Then Sam stuck his tongue out raspberrying his brother and sticking his own finger into his ear drawing a huge grin from Dean even as he cocked his head to the side laughing.
"... alright... after breakfast then?" John nodded knowing what was about to happen in the bedroom, knowing in just a few minutes there would be an all-out-tickle-war going on and he'd have to barge in, pretending to be harsh, then he'd have to join them for a little while. It was too tempting tonight NOT to join in the fun, but it was going to make for a long night.
"Alright Jim... see you then... and thanks... I think they're both gonna be okay... listen..." he held the phone up toward the door for a minute then brought it back to his ear, "... tickle fight... yeah... alright... see you then," he grinned then hung up.
John sat back in the recliner watching his boys for a while as he finished his beer, then as he'd known he'd have to, he leaped into the room grinning from ear to ear with a hearty, "WHAT're you up to!" before he dove to the edge of the bed, each hand and its knowing 'daddy' fingers finding just the right spots on their bellies, necks and between their ribs to get them squirming delightfully.
"John... good morning..." Jim greeted smiling openly, "How're the boys?"
"Good Jim... thanks..." John smiled, "They made me promise that you'll say hi before we head to the park."
Jim nodded motioning to another guest in his office, "John, this is Professor Ehren Hunter from the department of Antiquities at the museum, Professor Hunter, John Winchester."
"Pleased to meet you," John extended his hand to the unusual sight before him. This man stood a head shorter than he, his copious dark curls seemed to spring out in every possible direction, but what struck John was that though he was wearing a pair of brown corduroy pants and a t-shirt that seemed no less than three sizes too big for him, he was barefoot. And he had very hairy feet.
"Oh and you... and you... yep, definitely... you got the...? Well you found the? The...amulet right?" the professor shook his hand with a firm grasp, and a contagious open smile. John felt an immediate kinship with the man before him, despite his odd manner of dress.
"Right... well... actually my son Dean found it... he was taking his brother out to play yesterday morning and it was in an envelope with his name on it... but no indication of who left it..."
"Really?... that's...huh... well that's just a bit..." he leaned in looking from Jim to John with a bright smile on his face, "... odd don't you think?"
John smiled curiously, his fingers scratching his head through his hair, "Uh...yeah...I do... I didn't want him to get attached to something that might have a..."
"...dubious origin?" the professor finished for him, his lively brown eyes glinting under suggestively dancing eyebrows.
"Well that's good... more than you know... but good... but... you've nothing to worry about... it's brass... and I'm almost positive it's Balinese, but probably not... could be Celtic... the Celts worked with brass a lot... but the horns aren't quire right, nope nope they should be more stag-like for ... no, course not that it matters really when you consider the facts... the thing that's important to remember... is that it's OLD... I mean it's ANCIENT..."
"So it's probably stolen... and probably worth a huge amount of money..." John shook his head, Dean's going to be disappointed... he really liked that thing.
"Oh no... well I doubt it... I mean it's... brass... it's not... oh say gold or ... but... and here's the thing... it's value is in what it represents Mr. Winchester... It's a God... a HORNED god... protector spirit..."
"Come again?" John's eyebrows furrowed between Jim and the professor who was proving to be a very lively fellow, moving around Jim's office checking things out, making an unusual sort of sense while rambling and reading the spines of books until his eyes popped open and he moved with a spring in his step to the closet door and the foam basketball net that hung over it.
"OOOooh is there a..." he asked turning toward Jim, his eyes wide with the spirit of play as Jim tossed the orange foam ball to him.
"Professor?" John questioned.
"Oh right..." he nodded tossing the ball through the hoop then clapping happily in response.
"Well... See I say it could be Balinese but I actually think it goes farther back than that... maybe even to... uhm... MORE ancient times..." he shot again watching the ball sink effortlessly through the net, "...maybe even a few thousand years before the Christ child was born... could be Zoroastrian... could be but probably not..." he dashed around the office, approaching the net from several different directions and shooting, netting the ball each time, "... could be...oh say... Akkadian, or even Babylonian, interesting place Babylon, one of the first Horned Gods came out of there... Enki was his name..." he looked from one man to the other noting their puzzled expressions and laughed lightly, "Yeah... he has an interesting history y'know... quite a busy guy. Anyway... thing all these cultures and their horned God's have in common..." he turned, "They all represent... well lots of things really... mostly fertility and rebirth... course that's my focus of preference anyway..." he snickered wiggling his eyebrows at the men who chuckled in appreciation of the sentiment, "Anyway... all the rest is just... you know... crossing your t's and dotting your i's... but an amulet like that..." he stopped shooting then tossed the ball back to Jim before looking at both men again, "Yes it's protection... but... well... meh... just old cultural superstitions... nevermind..." he smiled reaching over the desk to pick up the amulet.
"What?" John asked, "Please..."
Professor Hunter spocked an eyebrow at the taller man before him, "Well... something like this... wouldn't be arbitrarily bestowed... there'd be meaning behind it... a connection ... but something big, something important would have had to have happened for an amulet like this to be given a child. Like a rite of passage... or something, you know... 'test of the soul' type thing..." he took John's hand, pretending to miss the look that shot between the hunters while he opened it and pressed the pendant into his palm.
"Why?" Jim asked.
"Gods like these? They're patrons to their champions... You ask me? Someone thinks your son is a very special boy Mr. Winchester," he smiled hugely at the stunned father.
"OOoh I've seen these!" he grinned dashing to Jim's shelf where he picked up the small plastic trinket and shook it then smiled happily watching the snow swirl around the small church in the background.
"He is a very special boy professor...they both are..."
"Course they are...they're your children..." the light spirited man closed John's hand around the amulet.
"So you think it's okay to give it to him then?"
"Without a doubt," he nodded, then looked from one man to the next, "Anything else gentlemen?...No... I'll be going then... have t's to cross and i's to dot don't you know..."
he exited the office stopping short at the sight of the two brothers leaning over their books, one coloring, the elder tracing his way out of a maze, he turned back to John and Jim one more time, closing the door briefly again with his hand still on the knob, "Y'know all through myth and lore, a God's champion is the foundation for all great deeds to be done...The foundation upon which the axis turns," he smiled then opened the door again, finding himself looking into the jade green eyes that were examining him brightly.
"Hullo..." he greeted.
"Hello..." Dean looked at him with his head cocked to the side, a different kind of smile spreading across his face with a slightly comforting feeling inside. Funny little man... he thought.
"Hi..." Sam greeted without looking up from the coloring book where he was trying very hard NOT to color outside the lines.
"Bye now..." the man with the fuzzy pants and head full of wild curly hair smiled and waved as he left the church, the door closing softly behind him as he stepped into the morning sunshine.
"Bye..." Dean smiled back and returned the wave watching the man go.
"Bye..." Sam echoed.
"Dean... come in here please..." John called from inside the office.
Sam dropped his crayon, slipped his hand into Dean's and went with him into the office where John and Jim were both chuckling and smiling easily.
"... hey the guy's THE expert in the field... guess he's allowed to be a little eccentric..." Jim shrugged.
"A little..." John scoffed good naturedly as his boys entered the office.
"Hi Pastor Jim..." Dean grinned, hitching his thumb over his shoulder, "Who was that guy?"
"Hi Dean... good to see you ..." Jim greeted perching on his desk. Sam slid his hand from Dean's. He walked beaming to Jim and patted his leg until the Pastor picked him up and held him on his knee, "Hiya Sammy... how're you doing today?"
"Good! Dean'n me were playing in the coloring books...but he does puzzles... I like the colors..." Sam smiled leaning comfortably back into the man's chest, his thumb secure in his mouth for only a moment before he took it back out and made a fist around it. "Dean says I'n a big boy now... so I can't suck my thumb no more..." he shook his head with a little sigh but leaned back against the pastor with both of his hands secure under his arms.
"Well good for you Sam!" Jim smiled ruffing the mop of hair on the little boys' head.
Dean caught Jim's wink at him and smiled as John answered his question, "That was Professor Ehren Hunter from the museum..." then opened his hand to show Dean the pendant.
"Really!?" his eyes lit up with excitement.
"He said it wasn't from the museum... and he said that if it was given to you, it was for a very good reason..." John smiled tying the leather cord around his son's neck.
"What is it?" Dean asked holding it up so he could see the face.
"It's kind of a good luck charm... even the professor wasn't sure which God that represents, but he was certain that it's the sign of a protector..." Jim paraphrased as John nodded.
"Cool!... does it mean that I can be a protector too?" he asked almost desperately.
"You already are..." John smiled nodding his head toward Sam as he knelt before his first born son, his hands on his shoulders, his smile huge and proud as he looked into the milky jade colored eyes Dean had gotten straight from his mother, "You always have been... and you always will be."
Hope you liked, and if you did, gratitude is owed to both Catbeist and Nevermore, whose unflagging encouragement and prodding resulted in this actually being posted. This particular fic started out as an A/U to my own little A/U... There is another fic I wrote in which Dean was given the pendant, called After The Fire, but this one actually 'fits' my little SN verse, it does slightly skew the timeline... so... at Catbeist's suggestion I leave it up to the reader to decide which one each individual considers the 'stand alone', and which one should be considered the more appropriate one for the 'verse that sorta just keeps expanding...
No matter what though... Thank you for reading, reviewing, and for coming along on this journey. I truly hope the read has been half as well enjoyed as the writing of it was.
Oh yeah... and last but not least, it should be a given by now that I fully disclaim SN, the boys, John, Jim... the pendant... metallicar... everything I have to disclaim...
but what I hope is also a given, is the love that remains steadfast.