WARNING: Wearing of This Garment Does Not Enable You to Fly (1/1)
Pairing/Characters: Dean, Sam, John
Disclaimer: Own nothing. Just having fun.
Summary: October 28. There was a time Sam thought of Dean as his personal superhero. Dean wonders when that stopped being true.
Notes: Thanks to insomniageek for reading this over and catching my typos and Canadianisms.
It starts out innocently enough, just a trip down the street to stock up on food and there's no way he's leaving Sam by himself. Dean has learned that lesson far too well. Dad isn't home, probably won't be for a week or more, and that makes Sam Dean's responsibility.
He tries to keep Sam in his peripheral vision as his little brother wanders up and down the aisles, staring at the Halloween candy and decorations. It doesn't get too bad until they got to check out. There's only one girl on the register and the line seems about five miles long so Dean knows that they are in for a bit of a wait. Given how much Sam's fidgeting already, it's pretty clear that he's not going to stay put for the entire time. Which is why, when Sam points to the entire wall covered in kid's costumes, he just nods and says, "Sure, you can take a look. But we aren't buying anything."
Sam, who in spite of his upbringing sometimes has all the coordination of a three-legged elephant, practically runs into the woman behind him and doesn't even pause, just zips off again to stare at the big wall. Dean cringes as the woman watches him dart off with a strange look in her eye. He's not sure if she's mad at him for not having better control over his brother, or at his brother for practically taking the feet out from under her.
"Sorry about that ma'am," he says apologetically.
"No, don't worry about it, he reminds me of my son when he was that age. Jerry always loved Halloween. And he was worse about it, if you'll believe that."
Dean smiles back, one eye on Sam, as she shakes her head. "Of course, he's in high school now. You older kids are much too 'cool' for this kind of stuff." She lowers her voice conspiratorially. "I admit, I kind of miss it. Now I don't have any excuse to walk around in a silly costume."
Dean just laughs along with the woman, friendly. He can't really remember celebrating Halloween, though he knows that when he was three his mother made a costume herself and that Dad took him round the block near their house. He's never worn a costume at school either, just let the other kids think that he was too grown up for this kids stuff. When the teachers asked about it, he always told them that his family didn't celebrate the holiday. They'd nodded, and hadn't made him participate in anything if he hadn't wanted too. He can't help but remember the looks though, the ones that tried to be inoffensive but were secretly wondering if his family were Jehovah's Witnesses or some other sort of other ultra-religious weirdoes.
Sam seems to be staring at one particular item hovering just out of his reach. Dean thinks it over for a moment. It isn't like Dad is going to be home and will be able to say anything about it. So when Sam comes back and gives him the LOOK, all big eyes and pouty lips, he caves.
"You don't mind saving my place ma'am, do you?"
The woman chuckles as Sam excitedly tries to tug him away, whining "Dean" the whole time. "No, you go right ahead, dear."
Dean leaves the cart and follows Sam.
Sam's interest doesn't really lie in any of the monsters. Not surprising really. He doesn't seem to get why anyone would want to dress up as any of the things that his family hunts on a regular basis, any of the things that get Dad hurt. Dean can't help but agree. Instead he's pointing at the Superman costume. No surprise there. He watches that stupid movie every goddamn time it comes on TV. Not that Dean knows this because he watched it with him. Not at all.
"Dean, can I? Pleease? Ms. Witherspoon says we're having a party on Friday and I don't have a costume." Deep down he hates that Sam is probably going to be the odd one out, which is why he picks it up to take a closer look.
On the package it says quite clearly, "WARNING: Wearing of This Garment Does Not Enable You to Fly" and Dean starts snickering. How dumb do these guys think people are? He looks at the price and sets it back down with a wince. Pretty damn stupid, apparently. How they can charge that much for a few pieces of cloth and a plastic mask is beyond him. "Sorry, kiddo. I don't think we can." Sam is giving him the puppy eyes, but he doesn't have much choice but to shake his head. They still have to eat, and any of the ways Dean could make cash quickly are pretty damn unpleasant and dangerous.
"Don't worry Sammy. I'll come up with something." Dean makes up his mind that that is exactly what he is going to do.
He skips school on Thursday since Sam's safely under the watchful eye of Ms. Witherspoon and he knows he's going to need a bit of time to put this together. He can always forge a note and say he was sick. He's gotten pretty good at signing the name John Winchester. He's already developed a bit of a reputation for missing class now that he's gotten old enough and big enough to have his father's back when Dad needs another hand.
The windows are dirty and need cleaning, and the inside of Laurell's Second Hand Clothing Store isn't much better. He's been in places like this a hundred times. They've been at this particular one often in the past few months, since Dean has sprouted up enough inches that his clothes always seem to be too short, so the woman at the counter pauses from her magazine to give him a friendly nod. She doesn't even seem to question why he isn't in school. He smiles back and heads straight for the clearance rack to start searching for exactly what he needs.. Even in a place like this, he doesn't have the money for anything else.
It costs a few bucks, though not nearly as many as the pre-packaged version, but Dean doesn't mind skipping a meal for something like this. And if the blue shirt is closer to purple, well, that's going to be the best he can do.
By 2 o'clock, he's pricked his finger so many times that it might as well be a voodoo doll. It's a damn good thing that neither Sam nor Dad are here, 'cause every time the words coming out of his mouth get worse. Dean's stitches are tight; he's sewn up enough skin and flesh for them to look darn near professional. While he's done patches and such before, making the clothes they have last as long as they can, he's never done anything like this from scratch. Looking back, the corded yellow pants that he'd grabbed for their color may not have been the best choice. They're too thick for him to get the needle through easily, and he struggles with every stitch. The needle finally pushes through. "Fuck." Right into his index finger. Sammy better damn well appreciate this.
By three, he's heading over to the school to pick up Sam. It's a good thing that the high school is on a different street so that no one realizes that he's here
"I've got a surprise for you, squirt."
Sam looks unsure whether to be outraged at the name or happy about the surprise. He finally decides to ignore the name and settles for, "What is it?"
"You'll have to wait to find out."
"Dean, you're so mean. Tell me."
Sam keeps asking all the way home, but Dean doesn't back down. He really wants to see the look on Sam's face.
And it is priceless. Sam's eyes light up like lightbulbs when he sees the costume. And maybe it isn't as good as the store-bought; the S a little bit lopsided since he'd made a few mistakes and had to cut a bit off, and the blue isn't quite the right color. Sam doesn't even seem to notice.
When he picks Sam up after school the next day, he already has a plan. "So, want to hit a few houses on the way home?"
"Can we? Really?"
Dean just nods and hands him the plastic bag he'd packed this morning.
He stops them at some of the places near the school, since there is no way Dean is trick-or-treating anywhere near their hotel. If a few of the people answering the door look a bit contemptuous at the home-made costume, a little bit condescending when they ask Sam where he got it as they take in Dean's beat up clothes, Dean finds that the pride in Sam's eyes when he says his brother made it for him takes any of that pain away.
Every one of those damn pin-pricks had been well worth it.
When they get home, Sam upends all the candy on the table and starts sorting it. The kid is pretty damn meticulous and, as far as Dean can tell from where he's washing the dishes in the kitchenette, it looks like he's alphabetizing his hoard.
He's drying the dishes when Sammy comes up behind him and pulls on his sleeve. Dean glances down to see Sam holding up a package of M&M's, Dean's favorite. "This is for you. 'Cause you're the best big brother ever."
Dean isn't able to stop smiling for the rest of the evening. Yep, SO totally worth it.
Even if he does have to deal with Sam hyped up on sugar for the entire weekend.
Dad doesn't disappear this year like he usually does, a sprained wrist keeping him from the hunting which he'd normally use to distract himself as November inches closer. It's four days before Halloween when Dean comes home, hands attempting to juggle three bags of groceries without turning the bread into a squished lump, to Sam sitting on the step. They're staying in a motel on the wrong part of town, where they've been holed up since early September. Sam's head is in his hands and Dean doesn't even think about it, just walks up and drops the bags down to sit beside his brother.
Sam doesn't look up at him when he says, "We're leaving next week." Yeah, that sounds about right. It's not like John Winchester to let a minor injury keep him down longer than that. But Dean knows that his brother had been hoping to stay longer, maybe pass his first year of high school in the same place. Plus, Sam sounds like he's been crying like the girl he is, so Dean does the only thing he can.
He puts his arm around his brother's shoulders and listens. Doesn't actually say anything until he can hear the whole story. "It's just, I really thought we might stay. I mean, you don't have school anymore, and I'm not a little kid. I can look after myself for a few days, you know? If Dad and you go off on a hunt. We could just..." He trails off, sounding wistful. Sam seems to have picked up this dream of a white-picket fence somewhere and Dean doesn't have the heart to talk him out of it. He doesn't know if he even could.
"It's no good, Sam. It's not safe for you to be all on your own." For you to be without me. "Not given what might follow us home."
Sam just nods. "I know. Just, why do we have to give up everything for this? Why can't we have something for a change?"
Sam's looking at him now and, because he doesn't have any answers that Sam wants to hear right now, Dean does the only thing he can. He deflects. "This is about Sandy Larkins, isn't it?" He wiggles his eyebrows just so. Sam laughs, choked but it's there, and the tension meter has gone from a 10 to what Dean would class as a 2.5.
"I'm not you, Dean. It's not always about a girl." No, Dean knows that Sam doesn't really care so much about that. But knowing his brother, he probably does care about how three weeks ago he'd managed to get, if not the major lead role, a part playing an important supporting character at in the drama club's annual Christmas play. His brother has always been weird about stuff like that.
"Are you trying to say something about me, little bro?"
"And if I am?"
When Sam punches him in the arm in retaliation for ruffling his hair, Dean just grins. They may be heading out in a week and Sam might not get his chance to star in the school whatever, but at least they have each other. So everything is going to be just fine.
At the next town, Sam manages to sub in for some kid who broke his leg for the Christmas pageant. Dean actually didn't have anything to do with that, though he could swear that Sam gives him suspicious looks for the better part of a week. He doesn't have a speaking part, but the kid is damn good at emoting so Dean wolf-whistles from the crowd on the day of the performance until Sam's face blushes deep crimson. Sammy won't admit it, but Dean knows he's glad his big brother showed up just the same.
It's that time of year again and Dean has been anticipating some sort of blow-up for weeks now, feeling like he's been walking on eggshells. Sam has been snarling and grumbling under his breath; Dean isn't sure if him and Dad aren't meant to hear it, or if Sammy's trying to provoke something. If that's the case, it's working.
When it finally does go down, four days before Halloween, Dean is in the room, but he might as well be on the moon for all the attention that gets paid to him. He's standing in the middle trying to prevent a real fight. In any other family, this would already be one, but Dean knows just how much uglier this could get if one of them goes for a knife or a gun. Sam towers over him, his chin tilted out just so and vileness pouring out of his mouth like black tar. Dad isn't any better.
"If you don't want to be part of this family, Sam, fine. Get the fuck out."
He can taste the alcohol on Dad's breath as the air wafts past his face. Dad isn't drunk, but he isn't sober either. Dean sure as hell wishes he wasn't.
"Alright. Whatever you say, SIR."
And with Sam's sneering statement, that's it. It's over. The whole place shakes as Sam slams the door behind him and Dad curses, sitting down on the bed and staring at the door. Dean doesn't know whether to move or stay, caught indecisively between the two. His father's voice comes out as a low growl, making the decision for him.
"Dean, go after your brother."
He nods, exiting with far less violence than Sam had displayed.
Sam hasn't made it very far. Dean can see him walking down the sidewalk and he jogs to catch up.
"Sam." He puts his hand on one shoulder, squeezing it, but Sam knocks it away. His brother's face is white, still pissed as hell.
"Dean. Fuck. Off." Each of the three syllables in annunciated, cut with knives.
"Sam, I know you're mad. Dad laid it on you a bit heavy in there. He'll calm down."
There was a time that that reassurance would have been enough, but that had passed years ago. Dean knows this, but it doesn't stop him from trying anyway.
"You know something Dean? You're just as bad as he is."
And woahWhoa, this is new and dangerous territory. "Sam?"
"You don't fucking get it. Maybe I don't want to go back. You're all 'yessir' and 'nosir' and 'everything you say, sir'. You think everything that man says is golden, like he's always right. Like I should go crawling back to him when he calms down." Sam has to pause for breath in his tirade. "You ever think about that, Dean? Maybe I don't want to be part of this fucked up little army. Maybe I want to leave, be normal, go to college, hell, have a family. So why don't you just go back and tell Dad that he's going to get his wish."
Dean doesn't hear the rest of it. His vision has narrowed and his hands clench at his sides, practically vibrating. All he wants to do is scream at Sam, "You have a family. We're your family, you selfish little bitch." Sam is already turning away, and it's a lifetime of practice on Dean's part, the part that tells him to protect Sam, that prevents him from doing his brother serious harm. Even now, he can't bring himself to raise a hand to Sam in anything other than fun or training. He turns and punches the wall instead.
When he gets back to the hotel room, Dad doesn't comment on the bloody knuckles or when he helps himself to a drink.
Sam finally does show up at around 4 am. He doesn't offer any apologies, just shrugs off his coat and pulls his shoes off before climbing into bed. Dean doesn't say anything. He's still torn between relief and anger, and who knows what will come out if he opens his mouth.
It's Dean who, nearly a year later, drives Sam to the bus station. Who goes into his wallet and pulls out enough money to get Sam to California and then some. Who asks Sam to call and let him know how he is every once in a while.
Dad doesn't speak to him for a week, except to give orders.
Sam never calls.
Dean is staring at the phone hard enough that if it starts moving on its own, slinking away from his glare, he wouldn't be very surprised. It's sitting on the ratty brown bedcovers with their pulled threads matching surprisingly well with the orange carpeting he's seen in a thousand different cheap motels. The color always reminds him of that fungus Sam had managed to create when he stuffed a sandwich under the back seat of the Impala at age seven. It had taken days to track down the smell.
Dad hasn't called in yet, but that's nothing new. He's done that more than enough times in the past that Dean isn't worried. Much. Even if he has already left three voicemails.
He picks up the phone one more time, flips it open and scrolls through the numbers. He pauses at Dad's, lets the highlight rest at it for a good ten seconds before tapping down to his brother's. Another ten seconds pass before he flicks the plastic closed, nearly crushing it in his flexed fingers. Fuck it.
It's not like Sam would answer the God-damn phone anyway. He never has before.