Characters: Dean, Sam, John (wee!chesters)
Summary: It's freaking cold out, and they've been here forever, it seems, with nothing else to do but sit.
Disclaimer: Neither the SN characters nor the Snoopy ones belong to moi.
Notes: In honor of teithiwr at LJ, on the glorious occasion of her birthday, and also for Carol, who bought me at KazCon. I hope it's not cheating to kill two birds with one stone (so to speak), but Carol's prompts worked so well and the birthday timing worked out, and just in case that's not kosher enough, I have another fic in the works.
Also! Thanks to Faye and Kaly and T-fan for the super-fast betas).
Now, on with the show...
Still of the Night
Sammy's shivering again. Dean can hear his teeth chattering, even though Sam's got his head ducked, shoulders practically up around his ears as he tries to hide it. Dean can't blame him. It's freaking cold out, and they've been out here forever, it seems, with nothing else to do but sit.
"Hey." It's just a whisper, but Dean knows Sam can hear him, can tell by the way Sam's back twitches that he's ignoring him instead. Yeah, good luck with that, shrimp. Dean's not only cold but bored. And he really doesn't like being ignored.
"Sammy!" Still a whisper but louder, and Sam actually flinches this time.
"Shh!" Sam glares at him, looking disturbingly like Ms. Hastings, the school librarian from Dean's old junior high. All that's missing are the half-moon glasses and sensible shoes.
Dean sticks his tongue out and Sam shakes his head, turns his back with a huff.
Dean lets him be for a minute or two. It's always more fun, lulling Sam into a false sense of security. He packs a loose snowball left-handed, hefting it once or twice so the excess falls away.
It's quiet; no animal sounds, no wind stirring, only the muted whuff of snow clumps occasionally sliding off too-slender aspen limbs. There's open land before them and a good-sized hill behind them. The trees surrounding are close-set, but the trunks are thin enough to see around, good sight lines in every direction. Not much chance of anything catching them unawares. Still, Dean does a slow, careful scan, shotgun loose but ready in his right hand, before he lobs the snowball in a graceful arc that lands smack on the top of Sam's head.
"Dean!" Even a whisper can't hide Sam's resentment, and Dean has to cover his mouth, cackling at the absolute fury of Sam's expression. "Knock it off! Dad told us to stay put and pay attention!"
It's hard to take Sam seriously when his hair is covered by what looks like sparkly dandruff. White puffs of air chase the words out of his mouth, and Dean imagines they're the little clouds of conversation that plump up around the characters in the comics. Woodstock, he thinks, and it's too fitting…Sam as an indignant little bird with bubbles of incoherent outrage fluttering around him. And Dean as Snoopy, laying blissfully atop his dog house, ignoring the bird utterly.
He cracks up again.
"You're so s-s-stupid." The words would probably sound far harsher if Sam weren't stuttering, his whole body shaking now with cold.
"C'mere, Geek Boy." Dean holds an arm out, and seriously, with such a genuine invitation, how could Sam refuse? But he does, the stubborn little cuss. Turns even further away like he can just pretend Dean doesn't exist, and really, he should know better.
Dean stretches out a little further, gets a hand around Sam's collar and yanks. Sam sprawls backward, arms flailing as he lands half in Dean's lap, squawking impotently.
And thus, the Woodstock image is complete.
"Calm down, dude. You're freezing. Might as well try to warm up a little." Dean's not about to turn down a little body heat himself at this point—so damn cold—and he tugs Sam closer, wrapping his brother's thin body in his arms.
Sam's stiff and resistant, even though Dean can still feel him shuddering. Eventually, though, he lets himself sag a little. He digs an elbow into Dean's ribs as he wriggles into a more comfortable position, snickering when Dean mutters, "Watch it."
"Payback's a bitch, dorkface."
Yeah, Dean might just be regretting teaching Sam that one.
They fall silent for a stretch, each peering through the muted moon-glow and listening through the stillness, waiting for a sign that doesn't come.
Sam's shivering in earnest now, and Dean's feet have gone numb. "Unzip your jacket." He's not sure if Sam heard him at first, since he doesn't move, but then he realizes Sam's having trouble closing his fingers around the zipper. "Here, let me." He bats Sam's hand aside and does it himself.
Once it's open, Sam starts peeling it off, and Dean pushes him forward so he can get his own unzipped. Sam's movements are sluggish, and when Dean grabs the now-empty jacket to wrap over him like a blanket, Sam just lets him, doesn't protest as Dean pulls Sam's back flush to his chest and tucks the edges of both jackets around them. He sighs, and Dean figures he's probably pretty tired. They've been out here much longer than they thought they'd be, and that was on top of starting out late: the Impala had given in to a rare case of uncooperativeness, refusing to start right away.
"You can sleep if you want." Dean's voice sounds pretty drowsy to his own ears, and he guesses he's probably tired, too. But he can watch while Sam sleeps. A couple more hours won't kill him, and maybe Dad will show up soon. He can hope.
"'M not tired." Sam straightens a little as though to prove his point and Dean adjusts the jackets again.
"D'you think Dad found it?" Sam's not even really whispering now, just breathing out the words. Dean can feel them almost easier than hearing them.
"If he had, he'd be back by now." It sounds a little callous, but it's the truth. He's on the trail of some big-bodied creature Dean had taken to calling the Abominable Snowman—much to Sam's amusement and Dad's annoyance. It hadn't killed anyone—yet—but it had scared the bejesus out of a couple of hikers and some cows had turned up mutilated. No point in taking any chances.
Dad hadn't figured the hunt to be too dangerous. He'd left them in position to guard the creature's possible retreat, but hadn't seemed too worried about them actually facing it. If he had been, Dean's pretty sure Dad would have left them behind at the motel. Sam's only been out hunting a few times since he turned ten, and never on any of the bad gigs. Dad hasn't even let Dean come on the bad gigs yet, although with the increased training Dad's been giving him lately, he guesses that time isn't too far off.
All that knowledge begs the question, though: what's taking Dad so long?
Silence falls between them again, and Dean finds himself listening for footsteps. The cold fades a bit, and a feeling of lassitude steals over him. He catches himself with his chin against the crown of Sam's head, not sure when he let his eyes close.
"Sam?" There's no answer, just the light press of Sam's slight form against his own. Dean feels like he should be doing something, but he can't think what it is before the lethargy takes over again and everything slides into a hushed, velvety blackness.
The fingers wrapped around his shoulder feel like knives, and Dean tries to pull away from them.
He wants to answer, but his mouth won't work. Something stings against his cheek and he wonders what's wrong with him.
"Dean!" Dad's voice, loud and scared.
"Dad? Wha's…" His eyes finally blink open and he sees his Dad's, just inches away, looking pinched and worried, a smear of blood over the bridge of his nose.
"Dean, thank God."
The hand that had been slapping his cheek, Dean realizes, is now cupping it. He starts to sit up, then notices that Sam isn't huddled against him anymore. "Where's Woodstock?" His words are slurred, but fear gives him a little rush of adrenaline, clears his vision.
Even so, it takes a minute to realize what he said, why Dad is staring at him now with even greater worry. "I mean Sammy."
"He's right here." And he is, cradled against the crook of Dad's neck. Dad's coat is swaddled around him and his legs hang limp, making him look more like an exhausted toddler than a gangly pre-teen.
"Is he okay?" With movement comes shivering, and Dean's brief moment of energy starts to wane. He feels a comfort he hasn't known in a while when Dad's arm curls around him, leads him and then holds him up.
"He's okay. You're both okay. Dammit, I thought…" Dad draws in a sharp breath that could just as easily be a sob, and Dean stares at him, incredulous.
"Should have never let you boys come with me." Dad sounds angry now, but he doesn't say anything else, and he doesn't let Dean go. Instead, he gives a tug and starts walking, wrapping his arm around Dean's shoulders and holding him so close it's hard to keep their feet from getting tangled. The landscape is kind of fuzzy and Dean's still not sure what's going on.
He tries to process everything as they make the long trek back to the car, but doesn't really get anywhere. Dad starts talking, voice rising and falling in even baritone waves. Dean can't keep track of what he's saying, but at least he doesn't sound angry anymore. Sam hasn't made a sound, and Dad's still carrying him like a sack of potatoes; Dean's trying not too worry too much about that yet.
He feels detached and sort of smudged and it's beyond a relief to see the outline of the Impala in the moonlight, to be folded into the back seat and have Sam tucked beside him, blankets covering them both, as she rumbles to life.
Warmth spills out of the vents and though his eyes are closed, Dean can tell the car's not moving yet. He feels Dad's fingers press against his throat, the back of a hand against his forehead, the tickle of Sam's hair against his chin.
"You're okay. You're both okay." It sounds like maybe Dad is trying to reassure himself as much as his sons, but Dean believes him.
He pulls Sam a little closer and sleeps.