Just a little oneshot Wee!chester ficlet I experimented with. Not that much angst or pain but plenty fluff, cute Sammy 7 and Protective Dean 11. No Wincest, that's just sick. Enjoy and review please, I am sad!!
Rated T just in case
There was no hot water left in the crummy motel they were staying in. Dean had to boil the kettle like 12 times to get enough for his and Sammy's bath. He'd already washed, dried and folded all the laundry for the three of them, washed and dried the dishes after cooking tea and tidied the room of Sam's comics, books and coloured pens which he insisted in strewing everywhere. Boiling the water had taken forever and it was now well past Lights Out. Sam was getting cranky with tiredness and Dad would be pissed if they were both still up when he got back from work.
"Surf's up, Sammy." Dean called to his brother as he checked the temperature of the water, hissing as it stung his skinned knuckles. He put extra Matey Bubbles in so the suds filled the bath, making it look fuller than it was.
" 'Kay." His brother padded through wearing a smurf tee shirt under purple dungarees. He stripped quickly and clambered into the hot water, grateful to get a heat. The room was freezing and his breath was practically visible in the frigid air. The heating didn't work either. Dean debated waiting 'till Sam was finished before having his bath, but the water would be cold by then. He knew he was getting too old to share a bath with his little brother but he couldn't see a way round it. No one would know. He stripped quickly and climbed in the other end; this would be quicker anyway.
Sam screwed up his face as Dean scrubbed the day's grime off it. "Owwwche, not so hard Dean," Sam whined.
"Well you would insist on getting blue felt tip behind your ears," reminded Dean, nonplussed at his brother's protests. He washed the rest of him more carefully.
"OK, set up the field of battle Sam," satisfied his charge was reasonably clean, Dean started on himself.
He soaped up his buzz cut hair and rinsed it with a jug. If only Sam's hair was the same, bath time would be so much easier, Dean mused for the umpteenth time. Sam hated getting his curly hair washed. It was baby fine and if John forgot to buy conditioner, as he invariably did, it went into the most horrendous tangles that had to be painstakingly teased out while Sam screamed and wriggled. Keeping his hair short would have been the easy solution but that too was fraught with difficulties. Ever since John had nicked his ear with the scissors Sam refused to let anyone near his hair without a fight. At the last attempt Dean had had to beg and plead for him to sit still for one minute till it was over, while John bellowed and cursed under his breath as he tried in vain to cut it straight across the front. Sam insisted on tilting his head this way and that and scowled at every snip. He ended up looking like a scarecrow and sulked for days. Dean glared at John accusingly for shouting at Sam and gave him the silent treatment too. It wasn't an experience John wanted to repeat again any time soon.
To help overcome the trauma of hair washing at bath time, Dean had devised a game to keep Sammy amused and distracted while the deadly deed was carried out. The "field of battle" was the bath itself and anything that came to hand. 20 plastic green army men were divided into troops for each opposing side. After days of battle, Dean had 5 left verses Sam's 3.
Sam peeled up the sticky pink bathmat he was sitting on and spread it out on the surface of the water. He banged the suckers to make them stick against the sides of the bath to make a flat playing field and a barrier between him and Dean. He remembered the position of the pieces OK but he was struggling to come up with a battle strategy to beat Dean. He placed the sponges on the left and positioned Dean's troops behind them. His own men were out in the middle of the mat with only a paltry folded facecloth to hide behind. A nail brush was carefully placed on the right side of the mat. Sam then scooped up the bubbles and piled a big dollop of them on the sponges before delicately sprinkling the rest like snow over the battlefield.
Happy with his handiwork, Sam flicked bubbles at Dean while he tried to scrub his hands without hurting the cuts on them.
"Hurry up Dean, I'm cold,"
"Yeah, you an' me both, Dude," Dean paused to swipe a drip from his nose; he just couldn't get this damn cold shifted. He sniffed again before continuing. "You ready to give up yet?"
Sam shook his head, but before he could answer, Dean heard a key turn in the locked front door.
On immediate alert, Dean raised his finger to his lips to silence Sam. Listening hard he spied the sawn off shotgun behind the open bathroom door. As he reached for it, Sam sat rigid and silent in the bath holding his breath; he knew not to move until told. He bit his lip as he watched Dean frown in concentration as he strained in the darkness to see the figure coming in.
The door clicked closed. Weary feet padded heavily across the room. Keys chinked on the glass table. Dean raised the gun to his chest, wincing as he clicked off the safety. It was only 21.30; Dad didn't finish his new job at the meat plant until 22.30.
"Whoa there, Tiger!" John grinned as he held his hands up in surrender "Only me boys, got off early tonight!"
"Daaad!" Sam broke into a relieved smile at the sight of his father. Dean replaced the safety and hastily placed the gun out of harms way.
John's bone weary and aching body was forgotten at the sight of his boys. They were the sunshine in the dark nightmare that was his life. His new job at the abattoir sucked big time. It was back breaking, monotonous and filthy work, but it was all he could get in this hick town in the winter season. He couldn't risk another credit card scam too soon after the last one. It would be another few days before he could afford an apartment for the boys.
John turned his back to wash up in the grotty sink. "It's past Light Out." The tone was mild but Dean still felt the keen edge of it.
"Had to boil the kettle for water," Dean defended swiftly "took forever."
He hurriedly finished scrubbing and made to decant the mat separating him from his brother. He didn't need another lecture about Sammy falling asleep in school.
John nodded, satisfied at the explanation. He swallowed, ashamed of the state of the motel his kids were forced to stay in because of his failings. It hardened his resolve to get an apartment quicker.
"What's this?" John jutted his head at the field of play as he bent down to dry his hands on the towels at the side of the bath. Dean cringed a little under the gaze; he didn't want his Dad to think he was a little kid playing with toy soldiers. John didn't notice Dean slide his hands under the water out of sight.
Sam, who had been absently picking his nose, suddenly twigged that his Dad could help him beat Dean if he explained the problem.
"Dean's troops," Sam paused as he pointed to the green soldiers behind the sponges, "have me trapped in the field. I've lost 3 men trying to get away." Sam bit his lip sadly as he opened his palm to show John the 3 casualties- signified as being dead by having their heads twisted off. "Every time I try to get away…" Sam reached out and pulled one of his troops out from behind the facecloth.
"Bang! Bang! Bang!" Dean wasn't letting Sam get off with a free ride. He reached over and flicked away bubbles from around Sam's position, indicating near misses of his rapid-fire machine gun.
"…I get blown away," Sam finished resignedly. His young face puckered into another scowl as he chewed his cheek. He was mad he couldn't figure out a way to win. John smiled inwardly; he could practically see the cogs working.
"Oh, I see." He glanced at both boys as he appeared to consider Sam's predicament.
John was quietly pleased Dean had found a solution to the hair-washing nightmare. It still amazed and warmed his broken heart that his boys could just get on and amuse each other, despite living in a freezing stink hole of a room with little food and no one to tuck them in at night. Dean was so good at getting Sam to do as he was told; he never needed to shout like John did. And he remembered the little things too, like which conditioner was best and how Sam liked his sandwiches made. It was supposed to be his job to remember those things. John pushed away the guilt and pain the thoughts evoked, lest they overcome him completely. His grief would paralyse him if he let it. He hardened, gulped down on the constant ache in his chest and resigned himself to teaching the boys stuff he did know about instead. Never one to let a learning opportunity pass, he knelt down and studied the battlefield.
"Well now you've got a problem then, don't cha?"
Dean was surprised Dad was taking an interest at all- usually he just barked at them to hurry up.
Sam clapped his hands and wriggled with delight at the prospect of his Dad's help.
"Lieutenant Dean, report!" John demanded.
Dean thought his Dad was getting into the role a little too much for his liking.
"Sir, yessir! I have 5 men on the north side of the mountains!" Dean indicated his troops. John nodded seriously. "I have the enemy pinned down in an exposed position," he pointed to the pathetic facecloth, "and I plan on sitting them out unless I kill them all first!" Dean couldn't stop a tiny bit of smugness leaking out.
"Equipment?" John queried.
"Standard Military Issue, Sir! Each man has 2 days food rations left, an AK 47 with 4 clips remaining, 4 grenades, a signal flare and a smoke bomb, and I have 4 rockets left for the rocket launcher!" Dean was glad he'd thought of everything when devising the game. "The weather's bad, minus 5 degrees with freezing wind and snow," Dean added, reflecting the weather outside the window.
"What about you Lieutenant Sam?"
"My three men are totally trapped. I'm short on ammo- only 2 clips left, 3 grenades, a signal flare, a smoke bomb and a single rocket, 'cos I used them all up defending my position" Sam moaned. "But I do have 5 days of food rations 'cos I raided the dead guys!" He finished with a flourish and gazed up at John for guidance.
"Radio man bought it the first day- radio's toast," Sam confided sheepishly, as if Dean couldn't hear.
"What's this?" John pointed to the nail brush on the right.
"Tree line into the forest." Dean stated smartly.
"Uh huh? Well now lets assess the situation, boys. Dean's got good position; he's well dug in with good cover and protection from the weather. He's also got a clear shot and he's reduced the enemy in number and morale. Well done, Dean." His eldest beamed a megawatt smile back at him. "Sam has got himself exposed." Sam's face fell at the criticism, the lower lip sliding out into a pout. "He was probably scouting the valley and got caught out by the weather turning." John tried to repair the damage. It worked. Sam nodded enthusiastically for the explanation of his predicament. "That was good thinking though taking the supplies off the dead men." Sam's face lit up like a ray of sunshine. John had to work hard to stop himself smiling back.
"Now, Dean's men can't last long without much food in this weather," concluded John, "and Sam's men won't survive the weather and Dean's trigger happy finger." He glanced at each boy in turn. They nodded solemnly, agreeing with the assessment.
"What you need Sam, is a diversion, so that while Dean's busy you can retreat back to the tree line, and live to fight another day."
Sam's eyes narrowed as he considered it. "But what with, Dad, I got nothin'." John, seeing his opportunity, used the pause to soak Sam's hair and apply shampoo to it, lathering it up quickly before he could protest. Dean quickly refilled the jug before he had to ask.
"Fire in the hole, Sam," added Dean as he handed it over. Sam immediately covered his ears, eyes and nose with his hands while John rinsed his hair quickly. He only cringed a tiny bit. Much better, John inwardly rejoiced; Dean had cracked it.
"Well, Dean doesn't know the radio's fried, does he?" John asked Sam as he put the jug away.
"No, sir," answered Sam. He ignored Dean's scowl as he shuffled the troops thoughtfully. Dean wasn't sure he liked where this was going.
"So, you can make Dean think you've called for air support and reinforcements," John concluded. At the sight of Sam's puzzled face, he explained further, "you gotta strap all your grenades to your remaining rocket (you pull all the pins out at the same time remember) and fire it at Dean's position, together with all your signal flares. The explosions and flares will light up Dean's position, as if you're highlighting it for the fighter pilots to see. Meanwhile Sam, you release your smoke bombs at your own position. This makes Dean think you've got choppers coming to evac you at that grid reference. Finally Sam, you need to lay your trip wires all round your position.
While Dean's men take cover from the explosions your rocket will cause and hide in case of aerial bombardment," John paused to move Dean's men a little farther back behind the sponges, "you can retreat back to the safety of the forest." John moved Sam's men to safety behind the nail brush. "By the time Dean realizes there's no air support coming, Sammy will be long gone, the smoke bombs having covered your escape." John grabbed a bottle of baby talc and squeezed it over the mat- the resulting puff of powder signifying the smoke screen.
Sam grinned wider as he followed the ploy. "And what's the cherry on the top, Sam?" John held up a finger to stop Dean interrupting. He could feel his son's scowl deepen 'cos he knew the answer.
"When Dean's men come down to scout my position, they'll get caught in the booby traps!" Sammy squealed, delighted to have got one over on his brother. He moved Dean's troops over to the facecloth and mimicked an explosion knocking all the men over. Sam clapped his hands gleefully and punched the air as he did a victory wiggle in the water.
"Naw, no way, man! I would totally expect it to be booby trapped!" Dean whined in response, "I would only send one man in to check it out!"
John frowned at his watch. "That's enough for now. You boys both did real good tonight." He wasn't talking about the game either. The unexpected compliment silenced the squabble before it started. John leaned forward to pull the plug. His mind slid back to the reason he was in Hicksville, Montana. 5 cattle mutilations and a man struck by lightening who didn't live to tell the tale. John wasn't even sure if it was demon related but he had to check it out. Dean watched his Dad's eyes grow hooded and sad again. The brightness that had lit them briefly was gone. He hoped he was too preoccupied to notice his skinned knuckles and Sam's bruises. Another couple of days to heal up and he'd be home free; Dad would never know about his lapse.
They'd only been in town seven days before the weather turned and they were snowed in. John decided to stay on for a bit and dig in for a while. Dean was still getting over a bad bout of flu, and he had to rebuild their ammo and cash supplies anyway. He'd enrolled the boys in the local school and managed to get a job cash in hand at the abattoir. At least his knife skills would get some practice, if nothing else. He even thought the boys would like some winter training, with snow for a change.
They weren't enjoying it much just now that's for sure. It was freezing in the tiny bathroom and Sam's teeth were chattering as Dean wrapped him in a huge fluffy towel, before grabbing another for himself.
"S'OK buddy, I got him." John gave permission for Dean to get ready while he scooped Sam up and hitched him on his hip. Sam instinctively reached his arms around John's neck and laid his wet head on his shoulder as he carried him through to bed. John didn't notice the worried look that followed them.
"Gotta get you heated up some, before Jack Frost gives you a cold like he did Dean." John rubbed Sam's skinny body to dry him as he spoke.
"Is Jack Frost a demon, Dad? Did he get Dean?" Fear sparked in his dark eyes.
John caught his breath in horror at the thought, before he breathed out and gave Sam's head a pat. "No, Sammy, just a figure of speech. Dean'll be just fine in a few days." He fingered Sam's hair and teased some of the knots out it before Sam noticed. Getting long again, John mused; he didn't relish the prospect of another haircutting session any time soon.
Dean came padding through with his pj's on and his jersey and jeans on top. He was so cold his feet looked blue as he hurriedly pulled on woolly socks and clambered under the duvet on his side of the bed.
"Think Dean's got the right idea." John said as he plonked Sam down on the edge of the bed and rummaged in the duffel for extra clothes for him. Gonna have to go shopping too, he thought, as he surveyed the array of hand-me-down summer tee shirts and trousers. By the time he'd chosen some, Sam already had his pj's on.
John was pulling a pair of trousers over the pj's when Sam suddenly winced and jerked back. John jumped like he'd been burned. At Sam's involuntary yelp, Dean cursed under the sheets and screwed up his face. He knew he was busted. He sat up in bed and tensed himself for what was coming.
"What? What is it, Sammy?"
Silence. Sam looked very intently at the floor.
John ground his teeth in fury as he drew Sam to his feet and turned him around to look. He parted the pj top and bottoms to reveal a huge purple bruise on Sam's flank. The tread mark of a boot was clearly visible on the milky white skin.
Pain caught his breath. Guilt flared for not noticing the injury earlier, then anger because he didn't know how it had happened.
"Dean!" No mistaking the tone this time.
"What the hell happened to your brother!?" Stern eyes bored into his. Dean gulped and hesitated, wondering where to start.
If Dean had done this by God he'd… he'd… John took a deep breath before he did something he would regret. He didn't actually know he would do, but Dean wasn't helping himself by glancing guiltily at Sam before meeting John's eyes.
Sam felt bad for dropping Dean in it. He'd tried real hard to keep his and Dean's secret. He hadn't meant to yelp. He looked sadly back at Dean and his lip trembled. Tears threatened. Dad was mad.
"Don't make me ask you again, Dean." The tone was quieter now, but all the more menacing for it.
"I screwed up my homework!" Dean blurted it out, desperate now to confess and get it over with. John's gaze didn't waver, but an eyebrow crept up questioningly. "Teacher made me stay back at lunch to do it over," he continued miserably and shook his head at his own stupidity.
"Tyler Morgan took Sam's lunch money." He sighed, mad at himself. "…New kids in school… I should've seen it comin'," he explained bitterly.
He clenched his fists and ground his teeth as he remembered the day before, finding Sam after lunch under the stairwell, trying not to cry while holding his side. Sam said he'd fought back hard, like Dad had taught him, but Tyler was too strong. He'd stepped on him as he raided Sam's pockets for his money.
Dean hung his head in shame, ready to accept any punishment that was mete out.
John was silent. He pursed his lips as he turned back to Sam and methodically put on the rest of his clothes.
The silence stretched.
The actions helped him recover his composure. He cursed himself for thinking the worst. These things happened, part of growing up, he supposed. But he couldn't hide a tiny flicker of disappointment. He thought he'd trained his boys well, maybe not well enough though. He'd have to change that.
Sam was silent as he allowed John to brush his hair without protest. He caught John's hand as he laid down the brush and stared into his eyes, just inches away.
"Dean didn't do nothin', Dad. Why you so mad at him?" He implored so honestly that John's chest hitched. He sniffed hard to cover it up as he lifted Sam gently back onto the bed. He knelt on one knee so he was face to face and reached forward to stroke Sam's cold cheek softly.
"That's kinda the problem though, ain't it?" The accusation was plain.
Dean still couldn't meet his Dad's eyes. Didn't say anything. Waited.
"But Dad!" Sam grabbed John's hand and gave it a little shake "Dean got my money back and fixed Tyler real good! He won't bother me again, Dean made sure of it!"
Dean frowned at Sam, motioning for him to shut up. He was digging Dean's grave deeper with each word uttered.
"What?!" Surprise mixed a little with anger at not getting the whole story. He turned to Dean.
"Explain. All of it. Now." The tone was milder now, more exasperated than angry. Why was it so hard to get a god damn straight answer, he wondered briefly.
Before Dean could even open his mouth, Sam interrupted quickly. "We waited 'til Tyler got off the bus today and followed him home. Dean jumped him and held him down while I got my money back." Sam bounced on the bed a little as he got more excited telling the story.
"Dean beat him up real good Dad, you should've seen him! Then we walked him home to his Mom, and told her that we'd stopped other kids from beating him up on the school bus!" Sam giggled with delight as he recounted it.
Dean couldn't help but let a tiny smirk escape. He had enjoyed rubbing Tyler's face in it with his Mom looking on. It was worth breaking Dad's rule about coming straight home from school too, he thought.
Sam beamed at his Dad, "Tyler's Mom was so grateful she gave us fairy cakes and milk. She said I was cute, too."
John shook his head and sighed, unable to stop a grin creeping across his hard features. "You two tag-teamed him, huh?" He dipped his head to catch Dean's gaze, let him see he wasn't mad.
"Sir, yes, Sir!" Dean sagged with relief and broke into a bigger smile when he saw his Dad grinning back at him. John reached out and took his wrists, turned them to examine the skinned up knuckles.
"Tyler had braces." Dean had the good sense to look sheepish. John nodded again, understood.
"Leave your homework out in future OK squirt? I'll check it, before you hand it in." Dean nodded a grateful smile, glad his Dad didn't make a big deal. He knew Dean struggled in school.
John reached out and took Sam's hand, held it together with Dean's.
"I know things are hard just now for you boys." John nodded, accepting he was the cause of it, resigned to the fact that this was the way it had to be. "Another new town, new school, new people. But s'long as you got each other; I know you'll be just fine." His voice broke. Paused to draw strength. "You two are stronger together. Always remember that." John felt like he said the words more for himself than for them. They already knew they made a great team.
"Yessir!" Both boys answered in unison.
"OK, lecture over, Lights Out!"
Sam gingerly crawled under the duvet and over to Dean to get a heat. John lingered 'till they were settled before making a point of tucking them in; he didn't get to do it very often. He shook his head in disbelief as he gazed at his beautiful boys. Maybe he wasn't doing such a bad job after all. God knows they didn't come with an instruction manual. He didn't think many parents would be proud of their kids beating up on someone, but he couldn't help it. He smiled inwardly at the thought. He'd have to give Dean more credit in future; he wasn't academic like Sam but he managed to work things out just fine on his own. John slept well that night for the first time in many months.
"We did good today, didn't we Dean?" Sam whispered into his brother's chest. He wasn't asleep like Dean thought.
"We sure did, Sammy," he dipped his chin and kissed his brother softly on the top of his damp head. "We sure did."