Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with Christmas traditions, Supernatural or absolutely anything you recognize in the following story. No money was made, no characters were actually hurt in the making of the story.
Authors notes: The italics in the first chapter represent a Dream/Nightmare. Bonus points for those of you who figure out the Christmas special Sammy and John are watching. It's one of my favourites.
This story is complete at four chapters. It has been totally written and I'm in the process of having it betad. This chapter has been beta'd but I've made a few changes since getting it back. Any left over errors are mine.
This lovely little ficlet came to light by a combination of stories from friends and family, family traditions and wanting some Christmas sappiness. It's totally au after seeing that amazing episode A Very Special Supernatural Christmas. Hope you all enjoy it. Read and review.
by infinite shadow
Dean shifted under the covers. He was covered in a fine sheen of sweat and his face was contorted as if in pain. A barely audible whimper escaped his slightly parted lips and he turned onto his side.
They were on the road again and Dean was curious about their next destination. John Winchester didn't share information that he didn't need to. Dean had been pulled out of another school that morning. Which really didnt bother him, he hadn't bothered to try and make friends this time. The eight year old looked out the window not really looking but it had gotten too dark to read his book. His Dad was happily alternating between singing and humming along with the radio. John couldn't carry a tune to save his life and Dean wished he'd stop.
"Are we there yet Daddy?" Sammy asked. "I gots to go."
"No Sammy but there's a rest stop coming up. Just hold on for a few minutes ok buddy," John said before going back to humming along with White Christmas on the radio.
Dean sighed, closed his eyes and rested his head against the back of the seat. Dad could stop now. Any time now would be really good. He was really getting a headache.
Sammy sighed in his sleep and snuggled into his big brother. Dean whimpered again and turned onto his back. His eyes shifted restlessly behind closed eye lids and his hands gripped the sheets so tightly that his knuckles were white.
"Dad? Are we going to Pastor Jim's this year?" Dean asked softly.
"No," John said. "We might drop in on Bobby for a few days. We're not too far away from his place. Said he'd like to see us if we were in the area."
"Ok," Dean said. That meant no Christmas Eve service this year and honestly he was relieved. He enjoyed visiting and staying with Pastor Jim and Caleb. He always had fun with them and he could relax without worrying about Sammy as much since Jim's place was safe. He just didn't want to hear about angles and faith. He couldn't believe in it anymore not after losing his mom. Cause she had been wrong. Angels didn't watch over them because if they did he'd still have a mom.
"Daddy? Can I see Santa this year?" Sammy asked.
Dean looked over at his little brother. Man this was not a conversation he wanted to be around for. Dad hated Christmas, except for the music apparently. But he would have to stop singing so he could yell. ... Crap.
"No," John said shortly.
"Why? I wanna see Santa," Sammy whined.
"Hey Sammy you don't need to see him. He won't know where we are," Dean said wishing he'd gotten up sooner the other day so Sammy hadn't seen that particular Christmas report. Who knew Sammy would actually watch the news?
"Sammy Santa's," John started but was cut off.
"Santa's too busy to see us this year," Dean said ignoring the glare his father was giving him in the rear-view mirror.
"Dean," John said strongly.
Dean flinched at the anger in his father's voice but didn't look up. Sammy didn't need to know Santa wasn't real. Not yet anyway. He was going to be yelled at for sure now. Dad had been touchy about Christmas since Mom died.
A car horn blared and the Impala lurched as it swerved. Dean instinctively threw his arm over his little brother next to him as they were rocked sideways keeping seated by their seatbelts. Tires screeched, glass shattered and Sammy screamed.
Dean bolted up from the bed panting and shaking in the darkness. He threw off the covers, ran out of the room and down the hallway. He threw open the bathroom door and dropped to his knees in front of the toilet. He threw up again and again as the sound of the screeching tires and Sammy's scream echoed through his head.
When his body stopped heaving he flushed the toiled and crawled over to the wall. He wrapped his arms around his knees and rested his head against them. The eight year old willed his pounding heart and shaking to stop. He had to get back to bed before Sammy woke up.
"Jingle bells, batman smells, robin laid an egg," Bobby sang from under the Impala where he was working on the car.
Dean shivered in the cold afternoon but didn't join in.
Bobby hummed happily to himself under the Impala's chassis. There wasn't a lot of damage to the car. He'd already worked out the kinks in the door and trunk. A new back window had been installed and now he was tinkering with a few things that didn't necessarily need tinkering with. He was giving Dean a break from looking after his little brother and giving him an opening to talk if he needed to. But the boy just wasn't co-operating. It was time to try again.
"Dean hand me a rag, would ya?" Bobby said as his fingers slipped on some grime coated bolts.
A stained and ripped piece of cloth was put into his hand and Bobby cleaned off his work space. John kept his car washed and waxed but the man never did much hosing down on the underneath of his car. When it was suitably cleaned off he put down the filthy cloth took a good look at the bolt. "You're awfully quiet out there."
Bobby listened carefully for any reply but none was forthcoming.
He shifted forward slightly and stuck his arm from underneath the car. "Gimme a 3/4 socket wrench Dean."
He felt an icy wetness in his hand. Oh good it was starting to snow. Sammy was going to go nuts, ok medicated nuts, when he saw the white flecks falling.
Another piece of snow hit his palm, but not the coolness of his wrench. Dean had been helpful but quiet locked away in his own thoughts. Bobby knew the eight year old couldn't get his head out of the accident. Physically he was in much better shape than his brother and father, but his head was messed up.
"Dean 3/4 wrench," Bobby repeated a bit louder. He patiently waited a few more moments before he pushed himself a little farther forward enough to check on the boy. He was sitting right where he'd left him on the cold ground, stick in his hand, little doodles in the dirt but he had this confused look on his face as he looked up to the clouds and the falling snow.
It gave the hunter and part time mechanic a moment to study the child. Dean was pale, his cheeks kissed red by the icy day, exhaustion clearly marked by the dark smudges beneath his eyes. "Dean?" he said softly.
The boy flinched as he was torn out of his thoughts and immediately switched his attention back to Bobby. "Yeah?"
"I think we're done for now," Bobby said as he hauled himself out from under the car and wiped his hands on another rag. "Help me gather up the tools?"
Dean nodded and slowly picked up the worn tools. He meticulously put them back carefully into the red tool box as if the battered tools would break if he tossed them in there.
Bobby straightened up and stretched slightly. He shook his head at the boys gentle handling of the tools. The last time Dean had been there he'd made a game out of how far back he could be and still toss the tool into the box.
Dean put in the last tool, closed and latched the tool box. He looked up at Bobby with blank eyes as if he was waiting on the next instructions.
"Ready for some hot chocolate?" Bobby asked as he put his hand over Dean's shoulder and steered him towards the house.
"You can check on your fatherand Sammy first," Bobby said.
"They're due for their meds," Dean said seriously looking at his watch.
"OK. I'll put the hot chocolate on the stove while you get the water glasses, ok?" Bobby suggested.
"Kay," Dean said.
"You write your letter to Santa yet?" he asked as they came around the side of the house and walked up the steps onto the porch.
"No sir," Dean answered softly.
Bobby frowned. We'll they'd have to change that.
They went into the house and went straight into the kitchen. Bobby put the milk on the stove on low heat to warm it up then took several medication bottles out of the cupboard above the stove. He read the labels and took large pills out of two prescription bottles for John and from anther bottle he took out a slightly smaller one for Sammy.
Bobby turned and saw Dean standing there waiting for him with two full glasses of water in his hands. "Ok let's go."
They went into the living room. Sammy looked half asleep sitting next to his dad on the couch. There was a slight bulge in the side of the four year olds jeans and up his side. A bandage that got changed a few times a day was covering a long and deep gash from the accident. The stitching had taken well over three hours in surgery and required the normal overly hyper four year old to be slightly sedated so he didn't pull them out.
John had his plaster encased leg resting up on the coffee table and one arm around his youngest son. A week's worth of stubble was quickly changing into a beard and he looked exhausted.
A Christmas special with nuns and a blind shepherd boy was playing on the TV and both Winchesters looked up as Dean and Bobby came into the room.
Sammy yawned and watched his big brother bring him a glass of water. "No Dean. Don't want em."
"You gotta take em Sammy. It's important," Dean said as he handed his dad a glass then took Sammy's pill from Bobby.
John took his pills from Bobby, swallowed them down and then drank half the glass of water. He looked down as Sammy tried to borrow into his side so he wouldn't have to take his pill.
"Come on Sammy," Dean said.
"Hey little man," John said softly. He gently rubbed his hand up and down the four year olds back. "Come on and sit up."
Sammy shook his head against his father's side.
"Sammy now," John said quietly but firmly.
Sammy sighed and sat up. He took the pill from his brother and stared at it.
"Sammy I got hot chocolate brewin' but no pill no hot chocolate," Bobby said.
John looked up at him and raised his eyebrows. Bribery was not usually his style but he rethought that as his youngest quickly took his pill.
Bobby gave John a nod. "I think the Packers are about to start," he said. He took a pillow off the couch and handed it to Dean.
Dean got up and changed the channel to the sports game.
Bobby gently picked up the four year old being very careful not to touch his injury. "Ready for hot chocolate?"
Sammy nodded and rested his head against Bobby's shoulder as they went into the kitchen behind Dean.
The eight year old quickly pushed two chairs together then put the pillow down on one. He sat down on the chair and looked up at Bobby.
Bobby gently sat Sammy onto the chair with the pillow and then went over to the stove. He opened a chocolate bar, added most of it to the milk and then added some powdered coco mix.
"All right Sammy?" Dean asked.
Sammy nodded and yawned before putting his head down on the table. He sat up quickly with a frown on his face and a hand going to his hip.
"Here you two start with this," Bobby said putting two squares of chocolate in front of them. Then he opened a drawer and pulled out a colouring book and crayons. He put them in front of Sammy.
Sammy looked up at him.
"Colour me something for my fridge little one. It's empty and needs some artwork," Bobby said then turned back to watch the hot chocolate heat up on the stove.
Dean opened the book and took out two blue crayons. He held them up to his brother and waited for him to choose one. "Come on Sammy. I'll do the one on this page."
They coloured until Bobby put hot chocolate and a plate of chocolate chip cookies in front of them. He left them alone long enough to give cookies and coffee to John, get the score then returned to the boys.
Dean was finishing up his picture as Bobby came into the room.
Bobby smiled. Sammy's picture was a collection of crayon squiggles and lines. Dean's was almost perfect, he'd hardly gone out of the lines. "Oh those are great! I'll put them onto the fridge. Nice job guys."
Dean rolled his eyes at the man's praise. It was just something to keep Sammy amused.
Bobby grabbed paper and pencils from the same drawer and put them in front of the two boys.
"What's this for? Dean asked softly.
"Well I figure there's just enough time to write a letter to Santa and have him get it before it's too late," Bobby said.
Sammy looked down at the paper sadly. "No."
Bobby paused. "No?"
Sammy looked up at him. "Santa's too busy. Won't find us," he said and leaned into his brother.
"Oh I doubt that. Santa's great for finding kids. He does it all the time," Bobby said.
Dean was watching him. His eyes widened with every word that came out of the hunter's mouth. He started to shake his head. "I don't think so Bobby."
"Why not?" Bobby asked.
"You gotta stay in one place for longer than we have to even let him know you've been around. We've not stayed in one place for more than a month for a while now," Dean said softly. "He won't find us here."
"Sure he will. I personally have it in with some of his elves," Bobby said giving the older boy a wink. "I'm sure that we can get these off to Santa and there'll be a little something here this year for you under the tree."
"Really?" Sammy asked.
"No silly. We don't even have a tree," Dean said.
"Work with me Dean," Bobby growled lowly as Sammy leaned forward to take a cookie. "Really Sammy. We can get a tree up before Christmas. I figured your awesome big brother could help you out and then he could write his own."
"Can we Dean? Can we?" Sammy asked turning to his brother.
"I don't know Sammy," Dean said slightly relieved to see some spark back in his little brother's eyes. But it was wrong. They just didn't do Christmas. It upset Dad too much.
"Pwease?" Sammy said as a grin grew on his face. "I even know what I want."
He hated to deny the brat anything. "Yeah ok Sammy," he said knowing his Dad was going to have his hide for encouraging this.
Bobby took a sip of his coffee and watched as Dean pulled a piece of paper closer to him.
Sammy took a bite of his cookie and munched on it for a minute. He frowned and looked at his brother. "What do I say?"
"Well you usually start a letter by saying Dear so and so."
"Ok. Dear so and so. Santa I want," Sammy started to say but stopped when his brother shook his head.
"No Sammy," Dean said with a smile. "You'd want to write Dear Santa."
"Then why did you call him a so and so?" Sammy asked.
Dean shook his head. "Never mind."
Bobby chuckled softly and headed into the living room and joined his friend on the couch.
"Report," John said as he stared at the TV.
"What am I your foot soldier?" Bobby growled then sighed. "They're writing letters to Santa."
John looked at him in surprise. "Willingly?"
"Yeah took some convincing though. Dean tried to get me not to do it," Bobby sighed. "You really should talk to him John."
"He's fine. There wasn't a mark on him," John said.
"Not all wounds are physical. You of all people should know that," Bobby shot back.
"I know he's not sleeping and he's been quiet but he usually is like this after we move. I took him out of school the morning of the accident. He's fine," John said.
"That boy is a long way from fine and you know it," Bobby said.
"How's my car?" John asked.
Bobby glared at him.
"Fine. I'll talk to Dean. How's my car?" John repeated.
In the kitchen Dean was just finishing up the letter. "Is that everything Sammy?"
Sammy sat there for a minute and pursed his lips as he thought about it. "That's all."
"Ok. Then we'll just finish it off by signing your name. Do you want to do it? Remember I showed you how?"
"Yeah," Sammy said and took the pencil from his brother. He leaned over the paper, pursed his lips in concentration and put the pencil onto the paper. "Snake, circle, stick, two bumps, two bumps again an a ... an a... what's next?"
"Two slashes and a stick," Dean said.
"Oh yeah," Sammy said as he concentrated on his work.
Dean took the paper and folded it neatly once. "I'll make sure Bobby mails it ok. But it may be too late Sammy. Don't be upset if you don't get anything ok? Santa may not be able to include us this year."
"Why?" Sammy asked.
"It might be too late to get any more toys made in time to get them delivered. His elves work hard and they're fast but this letter might be too late," Dean said.
Sammy sighed. "Ok," he said.
Dean got out the crayons again as Sammy found a new page to colour. He knew Bobby expected a letter from him as well. He sat in his chair wondering if he should even bother asking for anything. Santa wasn't real so what was the point? With a heavy sigh he scribbled down a short note and folded it up just as neatly as he'd folded Sam's.
"Come on Sammy. Let's give the letters to Bobby," Dean said.
He helped his little brother off his seat and gently put him on the floor. Sammy took his brother's hand as they walked into the living room. Dean frowned as the intense conversation between the adults abruptly stopped. He tried to subtly move the letters behind his back.
"What's behind your back Dean?" John asked.
"We wrote letters to Santa!" Sammy shouted with excitement. "Show em Dean!"
"You did huh?" John said and forced a smile. "That's great! Bobby's offered to take you into town tomorrow to mail them. Do you think you want to go little man?"
"Uh huh," Sammy said around a yawn.
The doorbell rang and four head turned to look at the front door.
"Relax it's just the pizza," Bobby said with a chuckle.
"Dad picks up," Dean said.
"It's cheaper," John said.
"Right," Bobby said as he answered the door. He talked to the delivery girl for a few minutes, paid her then and closed the door.
"Now then who wants dinner?" Bobby said and frowned when he saw all the Winchesters watching him.
"Bobby, is she your girl?" Dean asked.
"Now what would give you that idea," Bobby demanded.
"You made her blush and laugh," Dean said and shrugged as he took the boxes of pizza from the hunter and took them into the kitchen.
"John," Bobby started.
"Hey he's an observant kid," John said with a slight grin as he went past him on his crutches and into the kitchen.
Bobby stared down at Sammy.
Sammy shrugged. "Dean says girls are yucky," he said and started for the kitchen.
Bobby watched him limp a few steps before scooping the young one up. "Oh that'll change," he said.
Later that night they were all in the living room watching 'Its A Wonderful Life'. Sammy was asleep curled into his brother and John and Bobby were having a hushed conversation. Dean tolerated the movie for as long as he could and then got up.
"I'm going to put Sammy to bed," he said softly.
Both adults looked over at him like they'd forgotten he was there.
"I'll help you Dean," Bobby said starting to get up.
"Nah it's ok. I've got him," Dean said and gave his brother a gentle shake. "Hey Sammy it's time for bed. Give me your arms."
Still mostly asleep Sammy sighed and lifted his arms. Dean knelt down until he was leaning between his brother's outstretched arms. "Ok. Give me a hug."
Sammy leaned up and as Dean scooped him up from the couch Sammy tightened his arms around him. Dean staggered slightly as he straightened up but once he got his footing he smiled slightly at the two men watching him. "G'night," he whispered before walking down the hallway to their room.
John frowned. "I've never seen him do that before," he said softly.
"That boy does a lot that you don't know about," Bobby said as he got up and left the room. He returned a moment later with two bottles of beer. He handed a bottle to John. Then after a long pull on his own bottle he put it down and picked up the letters.
"What'd they ask for?" John asked.
"Sammy asked for very little. Couple of toys," Bobby said knowing he could easily get what the little boy wanted. He opened Deans and sighed sadly. "Your oldest didn't ask for anything."
"He must want something," John said.
"He doesn't believe in Santa. Why would he ask for anything?" Bobby asked.
Sammy suddenly started to cry and both men hurried down the hall. They found Sammy awake and crying as he held onto Dean.
"What happened?" John asked softly.
"I was just helping him change. I touched his bandage and it was soaked. I was going to come and get you but he started to cry," Dean said.
"It's all right Sammy," John said as he sat down on the mattress. "We'll get this cleaned up and then you can go to bed."
"Lie down on the bed so Dad can change your bandage Sammy," Dean said.
Sammy shook his head back and forth against Dean's shirt.
Bobby came into the room with his first aid kit and gave it to John.
"Sammy come here," John said just barely audible under his baby boy's crying. It's what usually worked on the tyke. The louder he got, the softer John got and eventually he stopped his fussing so he could hear what his father was saying.
"No Daddy. Hurts," he said into Dean's shirt.
"The sooner you get it changed the sooner it'll stop hurting," Dean said and he ran his hand up and down his brother's back trying to sooth him.
Sammy sniffled. "Don't wanna."
"I know but it'll be ok," Dean said knowing the tears were almost done. Sammy should have been in bed two hours ago and was having a hard time keeping his eyes open.
Sammy leaned into his brother for a few more moments before moving over to his father. John changed the bandage quickly and caused only a few more tears to fall. Five minutes later Sammy was asleep snuggled next to his brother.
Dean looked up at his Dad. "Sorry."
John sat down on the bed. "For what?"
"I made him cry," Dean said sadly as he gently ran his hand through his little brother's hair.
John gave his son a slight smile as he eased himself down on the bed. "Well I doubt you did it on purpose."
Dean shook his head.
"Everything ok son?" John asked as he tucked the blankets around his children.
"You ready to talk about it?" John asked knowing his son would open up if he asked him to but he far preferred Dean to come to him on his own. He always got farther with his son when Dean came to him voluntarily.
Dean shook his head.
"Ok. Get some sleep then," John said. He stood up using one of his crutches to steady him. "Any nightmares you can come to me. You know that right?"
Dean blinked a couple of times. "Yes sir," he said softly.
John gave him a nod. "See you in the morning," he said and left the room.
Now for those of you who are worried about this writers strike (ok who isn't) and want to do something about it head on over to heather03nmg's profile. I have her listed in my favourites authors. She has some good suggestions there on how to do take some action.