Disclaimer: Everything is still mine. But you can all still borrow it.
Author's Note: I never intended to write one of these, but it came out in text anyway. Hope everyone isn't still sick of the theme. Also, I know Dean's candy of choice is M&M's – in this world it's Starburst. If you'd like to come with an 'English-essay' reason as to why, knock yourself out.
And please do drop a note; good, bad or ugly.
Summary: 'If Dean and Sam had Max's childhood.' Sam reconciles with his father. Told second person.
Warnings: Abuse, very mild Win!cest, underage, some language, AU.
Frozen grass crunches like broken glass beneath your boots as you step purposefully through building twilight. The white noise of traffic is lost to distance as you slide deeper into the park, continuing on until you're deaf, as well, to the giddy voices of lovers and children on the frozen pond and it's so quiet, you can almost hear the cold.
You sit on a hard bench, the seat ringed in isolation, and wait. You know he's coming and you know he'll be late.
Nervous, you watch your breath puff out in tiny spheres of mist. Slowly, the sky continues to darken and you realize you've, somehow, gone from worrying over your impending meeting, to mulling over getting home. 22nd or Main Street?
If you take Main, you'll have to go past that hooker; that one outside the sewing shop. She's always there. Not always the same girl, but always there. Been trying to pick you up since you were sixteen. Not because you're handsome – no, you're not fool enough to believe that – but because you look defenceless, vulnerable, weak. You're an easy mark. Even the street-walkers know it.
But 22nd is longer… and you'll have to cross the bridge. The bridge with that service station on the far end… the one that's always advertising Bud or Coors or MGM – whatever's cheapest, whatever's on sale.
A heavy sigh puffs out a thick cloud of fog from between your lips. You don't know, really, why you're there, why you're doing this. 'Facing your demons.' How you hate that phrase. Whoever coined it probably had no demons; had no idea what "demons" really were. He probably had that perfect apple pie life: two storeys, white picket fence, picnics and baseball. He probably had a mommy who loved him and a daddy who didn't… A big brother who –
"Well, if it isn't Sweet Silly Sammy."
Adrenaline or fear races up your spine – that voice and that hated nickname inspiring all the same responses as when you were a boy.
You've abandoned your given name all together – you're using your middle name now. But he doesn't know that and you don't want him to. Why have him pollute that as well?
"Hello, John," you greet simply, sounding calm despite all your old anxieties rearing up.
He heaves himself onto the bench beside you. "What? It's not 'Daddy' anymore?"
No. It isn't. Hasn't been for a long time. Never will be again.
"Got a smoke?" His words are heavy with the tang of tobacco and cheap liquor. And it's so familiar that the taste of phantom blood is strong in your mouth.
He snorts, scornfully, " 'Course not." Exhaling heavily, he settles against the back of the bench. "You haven't gotten that fixed?" he ridicules, making a coarse gesture at the long scar crossing your temple.
For a brief instant, anger floods your common sense, drowning your usual timidity, and you're biting out a retort before you're fully aware of doing so, "It's not exactly a squeaky door hinge or a loose brake pad!"
He raises an eyebrow, setting you with a look that – you're not sure – could be pride, could be respect – you've never seen it before. "Plastic surgery, Runt. Or do you think you're too good for that now?"
Everything within you bristles as the pet-name slithers through his lips. The very essence of the sound is tainted, stained irrevocably by his voice. It's wrong. Too wrong. Spoken, likely, with only the intent to offend, to inspire hate.
Dean called you that. 'Runt.' Said with such love you could never be hurt by it; never insulted.
But now… Now he is polluting it. Could not even that be kept sacred?
You close your eyes for a lingering instant. Dean. Maybe all boys earn a designation of 'invincible,' of 'infallible,' of 'hero' in a younger brother's eyes. You aren't sure. You don't really care. Because Dean was a hero.
Four years older, he always let you be the blue Power Ranger, unless you changed your mind and decided you wanted to be the black. He read to you when you were small, taught you to tie your shoes and showed you all the important rules of football. He walked you to school, helped you across the street and he…
He was always there. Dean was always there. No matter what you needed. No matter what. It was always Dean.
And this man… this man sitting so coyly beside you, destroyed all of that. Destroyed everything.
Your father takes a package of Lucky's out of his pocket, tripping a cigarette between his lips and flicking a cheap Bic lighter. You aren't surprised – just because he asked you if you had smokes, doesn't mean he didn't have any of his own. He'd just rather smoke someone else's – save his own for another time.
The smoke curdles in the back of your throat, burning in your lungs, making you ache. You flinch in fear of the dreams, though you're awake… they always start with smoke. The scalding choke of tobacco then the fractured images… Rapid flashes of your dreams… such dreams.
Always the flickering images; glimpses lit by a static-filled television in a dark, deep room. Duct tape, broken glass, bottles. Oil on the cement of the garage, blood on the carpet near the couch. Starburst.
How the dreams always end. You aren't sure if you smile as you reach into your jacket pocket, fingering the yellow foil of the empty package.
You always have the candies – because Dean always had them. You aren't sure how he managed it… you hadn't needed to know. But, always, the sweets were tucked away, hidden in the folds of the clothes in his dresser, in the pockets of his coat, in the finger-holes if the worn-out baseball glove in the back corner of the closet.
And when you were upset or hurting, crying or bleeding, he'd sit you on the thread-bare blanket and break into a secret stash. And he'd always give you the pink ones, because they were your favourite. The best ones!
But when you got a little bit older, you realized that Dean was hurting too; crying quietly where you couldn't see – where he didn't want you to see. Where heroes cry.
That day, cross-legged on the old quilt, you pressed the pink candy back into his hand, taking the yellow for yourself, and the broad smile that eased the tension from his expression made the lemon taste all the sweeter.
He ruffled your hair and pulled you into a hug, whispering, "Thanks, Runt." And you were all wrapped up and warm and safe, drinking in the soft scent of soap and saffron and the strawberry of his breath.
Tobacco smothers the remembrance of strawberry as your father scoffs bitterly, catching sight of your wedding band. "Well, fuck me – you're married?" He relishes in a fetid chortle. "So… what's his name?"
You don't rise to the bait. You have no intention of telling him about your lovely wife or your perfect daughter. He won't be part of their lives. Won't be part of yours after today. You wouldn't dare let him to do them what he did to you and your brother all those years ago.
You're scared out of your head, trembling like crazy, bruised and banged up and hurting, chewing on a waxy mess of orange, yellow and red, because if you stop, you'll be clenching your teeth together so hard your whole face will just throb
Dean jambs a chair under the doorknob since the little bedroom has no lock, then hurries over to you, sweeping tawny bangs out of your eyes. "You okay, Runt? You okay?"
And, though it's a lie, and he'll know it's a lie, you nod shakily.
"I'm sorry." He returns your grasp as you throw your arms around him. "I'm sorry. So sorry."
It's not his fault. None of it. But he's sorry anyway.
You twist your hands into his sweater, burying your face in it and let yourself cry.
"It's okay. It's okay."
The strawberry words are a mantra. You let yourself relax into safety and soap and saffron. He's still whispering as he slips his hand under your hoodie, pressing against the small of your back, his fingers cool and sure and steady. You tense a little bit, but "It's okay. It's okay. It's okay."
And it is.
The older man stubs out his cigarette, grinding it into the dead, icy grass. "You know, Runt, you can wipe that damned judgemental glare off your face. What in the fuck gives you the right to judge me? Everything you are, you are because of me." He snorts vulgarly. "Really, you should be thankin' me."
"Thanking you?" You're reeling with the statement, but you bite back the desire to demand whether you should be expressing your gratitude for the bruised ribs or the black eyes; the 'falls down the stairs' or the 'sports injuries.'
"Hell yes." He shakes another cigarette from the pack, tapping it habitually against the side of the box. "Saved your ass from that paedophile you called 'brother.' Kid was fucked up. Screwed in the head." He chortles repulsively. "Sick mother fucker he was."
He's wrong. You know he's wrong. You hate him for his malice, for his false, odious words.
Dean's holding you and those muttered comforts are tumbling off his tongue, tripping each other up… but your spilt lip is just fucking gushing and all you can taste is salt and iron, your teeth and your chin stained with it and, it's ridiculous, but you think you're going to bleed to death – that you're really going to die.
And he's still desperately trying to calm you down, 'cause you're heading for a panic attack. And you're trying to meet his eyes, like he wants you to, but his left is swollen shut and the muted jade of his right is shining with just as much fear as you feel. And… And… And, damnit, you're hyperventilating!
But then his hand is pressed against your lower back again, cool and sure on your flushed skin. His other laces through your hair, tanned fingers wound in caramel locks.
And the saffron seems closer and you're tasting the strawberry of his breath. And the 'real fruit flavour' of the waxy candies might be artificial, but sure as hell, nothing else is.
It has to be the very worst day of your entire life. Your eyes are all welled up with tears and you're trying hard – so hard – not to cry.
His eyes, though… the muted jade is all lit up and alive. And you can't really blame him – he'll be eighteen in a few days. Able to do what he wants. To leave. To get away.
He laughs when he sees how miserable you look and tosses a whole, new package of Starburst into your lap, but even if every last one of them is pink – so what? Nothing can fix this. Fix that your hero will be gone and you'll be alone. Vulnerable. Unprotected. Lost.
"What's with the death-glare, Runt?" He plops down beside you, all care-free and grinning like a maniac. "You'd think you weren't coming with me."
And, just like that, the tears are gone and you're grinning like a maniac too.
Dean tears the package open and the first one's yellow, but so what? Because nothing – nothing can spoil this.
"So, what the fuck're we doing here, Silly Sammy? I'm freezin' my nads off." He lets out one of his awful laughs. "You wanna reconcile? Wanna ask what prison was like? Or you figurin' on killing me? Get revenge for your cunt brother?"
You stay silent in your seething anger. You can't deny that you've intended to do just that – the pistol tucked in your waistband is testament to such.
He snorts – seems to know exactly what you're thinking. "You don't have the sack. Neither did Dean. Raised me a couple o' perverted pussies."
That anger is curdling in your stomach. Every time he insults your hero – tries to degrade him – it makes the taste of the trigger all the more palatable.
You hear the hollering clearly through the paper-thin walls and your instinct is to hide in the closet like Dean's told you to. He doesn't want you hurt. But you find yourself creeping to the kitchen doorway, peering in.
Dean's standing toe to toe with your father – something you doubt you'll ever have the nerve to do; not even when you're eighteen, not even if you gain two inches on the man like Dean has.
You aren't really listening to the words they're shouting at each other – and it all just blurs into a roar when there's a flash of silver and a thunderclap of a gunshot.
It's not like the movies. Dean doesn't take a few staggering steps, doesn't knock over a lamp or a chair or the table, doesn't whisper any epic last words. He just goes down. And muted jade dulls to vacant green.
You must have screamed, because suddenly you father's turning on you, stepping over your brother's body, leaving bloody footprints on the dirty linoleum. The pistol flashes in the dim light again as the butt comes clubbing down so hard against your skull that you're surprised you weren't killed too… Though maybe you were supposed to be.
You're tense and you're angry and you're shaking. You can feel the metal of the Glock, cool and sure against the flushed skin of your lower back.
Your father's laughing – loud and ugly and mocking – smoke piling about him. His third or fifth Lucky; you don't know. Don't care.
You know this is it. The apex. The epoch. The zenith.
You decide to take 22nd home. You have the time for the longer route – Sandra knows you'll be late. You told her not to wait up; to go ahead and tuck in your precious little girl, to tell Kelly that Daddy loves her and he'll see her before she goes to school in the morning.
Crossing the bridge, you see the service station, its garish signs lit by the garish fluorescents. Coors is the pick of the day, the hot item, the orange-lettered sale. You walk purposefully through the glass door; in the familiar place you know where everything is.
The clerk totals off your purchase and hands you a plastic bag. In the darkened lot, you reach in, past the quart of milk and the ring pop for Kelly, taking out your prize.
Then you continue on down 22nd, the 'real fruit flavour' the only artificial thing in the cold night.