A Christmas Miracle
Sam jerked awake on the comfortable couch he was reclining on to see two identical little girls with pretty blonde ringlets bounce across the room towards his brother who was sleeping on the floor beneath him. He tensed with expectation, knowing Dean was never gentle when awakened suddenly and the little girls who couldn't be more than five years-old where definitely getting ready to pounce on him like a couple of kittens with a ball of yarn.
They leapt, but Dean sat up suddenly meeting them head on and gathering them both up into his arms.
"Gotcha!" he yelled and the two girls dissolved into delighted giggles.
"Annabelle. Sarabeth. Momma said not to bother Dad and Uncle Sam. She said they would be tired after a night playing video games and carouseling." A small, but stern voice said from near the wooden double doors. Sam glanced over at a young boy whose spiky hair was just beginning to darken with adolescence.
"Carousing." Sam corrected automatically, and the boy nodded.
"Yah, that's what she said," they boy replied while looking pointedly at the multitude of beer bottles piled around the very comfortable looking den. On the wall across from the couch was a huge flat screen T.V. and Sam could see an X-Box hooked up beneath it. The carpet was a plush sage color and the plump couch he was laying was slightly darker. As he glanced around the room he could see signs of an all night gaming fest, potato chip bags, soda cans and beer laying everywhere.
"But it's Christmas morning and grandpa says we can't open presents until everyone is awake!" One of the little girls whined and looked down at Dean with great big blue eyes. The second girl joined in, and even Sam felt the urge to buckle under such intense torture.
"Alright! Alright! We're up. Casey take your sisters into the front room. We'll be out in a second."
Sam glanced down at his brother. Though Dean's tone sounded even, Sam could see a hint of confusion behind his green eyes.
The girls squealed with happiness and rushed from the room. The solemn looking boy shoved his hands in his pants pockets and turned to follow them, a watchful eye on his sisters. He glanced back one last time, and Sam could see that he had Dean's green eyes before he slid the door closed.
Dean and Sam sat in silence for a moment, staring at nothing while they thought.
"That boy seems a little old to be yours. What is he? Ten?" Sam said conversationally, not able to broach the more pressing issue of what the hell was going on just yet.
"Yah. We got pregnant with him on Prom Night."
"Yah, Roxy and me."
"You remember that?" Sam asked carefully, watching his brother.
Dean dropped his head and stared into his lap. He was still on the floor half propped up against the coach. Sam watched as his brow furrowed in thought.
"Yah, I can. I remember Roxanne was dressed in this frilly purple thing and she smelled like orchids. I remember being afraid to touch her she was so pretty." Dean paused, deep in thought before starting again. "But at the same time I remember standing up Daisy Mae at the shit high school I graduated from in Arizona because Dad and I were hunting a Chupracabra in the desert."
Sam looked away, absorbing Dean's revelation.
"I remember that fight Dad and I had when I went off to college." From the corner of his eye, Sam could see Dean nodded in remembrance.
"But I can remember us all piling into the car and driving cross country to California. You patted me on the back and Dad shook my hand and told me how proud he was. Mom cried nearly the entire time. She made my bed in the dorm and gave me a box of cookies and Dad had to wrap his arm around her shoulders and lead her out she was crying so hard."
"Oh my God! Mom!" The both shot up off the floor at the realization they had a whole lifetime of memories of their mother that hadn't been there before.
Dean reached the door first, and he slid it open glancing out into the hall as if he was expecting a monster to jump out at them. It was empty but there was a loud clatter of noise drifting down towards them along with rich smells of syrup and bacon. Carefully they walked towards the noise, Dean first, and Sam close on his heels watching his back. The hall opened up into a huge kitchen which was full of people. A dark-haired woman saw them first as she was pulling some salt down from the cupboard. She smiled at Dean her blue eyes dancing mischievously. She opened another cupboard and pulled out some white plastic bags, walking up to Dean with a playful frown on her face.
"Clean up that mess you and your brother made, Mister, before the kids get into it." She shoved the bags into Dean's hands before giving him a quick kiss on the lips. Sam caught the faint scent of flowers, but then she was gone asking Mary if she needed any help.
Dumbly they watched as an older woman with stylishly short blonde hair turned away from the sink to smile at Roxanne. Sam felt his heart plummet to his toes at the sight of the beautiful face he had memorized from photographs. Suddenly years of memories flooded his brain, fighting for dominance over the ones he had grown up with. As he stared at his mother, he could remember two lives. One filled with love and acceptance. One with petty fights and make-up ice cream. And another life filled with hardship and death. So full of pain and suffering that it begged to die out and become nothing more than a shadow in the back of his mind.
"Morning sleepy head." A small hand ruffled his hair from behind and he turned around, shocked to see Jess staring up at him.
"Jessica," he gasped.
"Samuel," she mocked back.
He ignored her, gathering her up into his arms and squeezing her tight. Reflexively she wound her arms around his neck, pulling herself even closer. He buried his face into the crook of her neck inhaling deeply, smelling sea salt and mangos.
"Sam? Are you okay?" Jess whispered, her arms tightening around his neck. He squeezed his eyes shut for a second before regaining control of himself. Carefully he set her back down on her feet, smilingly down shakily at her.
"Yeah. I just had a bad dream."
Her slight frown melted away, and she smiled shyly up at him.
"Well, if you make it up to bed tonight I'll make sure you have good dreams."
He smiled at her and she returned it before skirting past them and out into the kitchen.
"Auntie Jess!" The girls piled into the kitchen followed by their ever watchful big brother. They surrounded Jess, jumping up and down to get her attention. She laughed and hugged them all, dragging them with her when Roxy shooed them from the kitchen.
Sam and Dean melted into the background returning to the den where they had spent the night. Dean handed Sam a bag, snapping his open and began stuffing trash into it. Sam followed suit, his mind racing as fast as it could go.
"You think it's a Djinn?" he asked.
"No. I didn't have memories of my new life, just the old one."
Sam absorbed that, moving around the room.
"Maybe it's more advanced."
"Maybe. But I had memories of the Djinn. Of hunting it. Do you remember us hunting one?"
"No, I remember dinner at Missouri's, the portal and then running from the jailhouse." Sam trailed off his brow furrowing. He was having a tough time remembering what happened after that.
He looked up when he heard the loud clatter of beer bottles hitting the floor. Dean had dropped his garbage bag and was stalking over to him his face a mask of intensity. His brother reached him and tore open his button down shirt, searching his chest and back thoroughly.
"Dude, what are you doing? You tore my shirt. It's Jess's favorite."
"You were shot. Back there, in the West. You were shot in the back and I had to leave you with Missouri."
"What are you talking about? Missouri?"
"It's a long story. The point is. You aren't shot anymore. As a matter of fact." Dean trailed off, sliding his hand down Sam's side.
"Dude!" Sam shimmied away, pulling his shirt back onto his shoulders while giving his brother the stop-freaking-me-out look.
"You don't have any scars."
Sam frowned at Dean, his brow furrowing. Slowly he turned his back to his brother and opened his shirt, looking for the slash marks from the razor claws of a Banshee that had been a part of him for ten years. His side was smooth and unmarked. He quickly checked for his numerous other scars and found them gone. He glanced back and Dean when he was done, noticing that his brother had done the same thing and from the look on his face he had gotten the same result.
"Dean, what's going on?" Sam tried to keep the freaked-out tone from his voice but he wasn't very successful.
Dean sunk down on the couch, an elbow braced on his knees, the heel of his hand jammed into his eye.
"Back in the Old West, the demon Shalor was trying to summon was Ole Yellow Eyes. I think that was his first entrance into our world. I think that's when he got here. I killed him. Put a bullet from the Colt right through his heart before he could hurt anyone. Before he could start his demon baby shit."
Sam sunk down onto the couch next to his brother and stared sightlessly at the empty black screen of the TV. Images of fire and water flashed through his mind, accompanied by a faint buzzing but it quickly faded away.
"So you think we changed the course of history? Do you think we changed our fate?" Sam whispered in a voice so low that Dean could barely hear him.
Dean shot up from his seat and began to pace furiously in front of Sam. He swiped his hand through his hair, and Sam noted absently it was longer than usual.
"Look, this is what I know. I remember everything from before. Every hunt. Every death. Everything. But I also remember getting married and you standing up as my best man. I remember the huge fight I had with Mom and Dad when they found out Roxy was pregnant. I remember being in the room with her when she gave birth to our kids."
He paused looking down at Sam.
"I know that Mom is alive and a teacher at the elementary school. I know that Dad built up his garage until it became a chain in three states. I know that Roxy is the best wife and mother I could ever hope for and that I own the top classic car rebuilding business in the Midwest."
"I know these things, Sam. And they are real to me. They are as real to me as everything else we have ever been through. "
Sam nodded in agreement. He remembered all those thing and more. He remembered getting accepted to Stanford. He remembered meeting Jess and falling in love with her. He knew that he was in law school and only home for the holidays and that Jess was in her second year of medical school. He knew all those things, just like he knew that ghosts really did exist and there were monsters in the dark. All those things were real, including his brand new second life.
"What if it's a trick? What if it's a lie and we are hanging like rotten meat in a warehouse somewhere?" A painful pressure was building in Sam's chest and no matter how deep a breath he took it just wouldn't go away.
Childish laughter erupted from the other room, and Dean stared longingly at the door. Slowly, he stared down at Sam, his bright green eyes filled with years of torment and sadness.
"I don't think I care, Sam. I don't think I have the strength to pull myself out this time. I don't think I want to. I want this. I want this to be real. I want this to be our life."
He squatted down in front of Sam, dropping his hand on top of his loosely laced ones. Sam looked up, revealing the tears that were sliding down his face. He watched as Dean swallowed hard, a single tear escaping his closed mask.
"I want it too, Dean," Sam whispered, and something broke free inside of him. The pain loosened in his chest and acceptance flooded through him.
Dean wrapped a hand around the back of his head, pulling him closer so their brows could meet. They stared down at the floor between their feet, tears falling unashamedly.
"I don't think we will ever get over the feeling that this is all a lie. The fear our bodies are dying somewhere. But if this is all just a beautiful dream, then I want to reveal in it. I want to savor it until the very end."
Sam nodded, the skin of his forehead brushing against Dean's.
"Yah. Me too."
Dean's hand tightened around Sam's neck before he shot to his feet. He quickly wiped his face with his arm and nervously picked up the garbage bag to finish his task. Sam sat still on the couch, barely noticing the movements around him. When Dean was finished he grabbed up both bags and headed for the door.
Dean paused and looked back at Sam who was staring up at him wide-eyed from the couch.
"What if it isn't a dream? What if all this is real?"
Dean smiled then. It was a beautiful smile. A smile Sam hadn't seen since they were young children. Sam could feel his own smile blossom on his face and it was filled with so much joy and happiness it felt like it was going to spill out from every pore in his body.
Sam stood up from the couch and together they walked out into their new life.
Sam and Dean spent the day hugging their family. John was there with his booming voice, sweeping his grandchildren into the air. His scars were gone leaving behind deep lines around his eyes mouth from smiling his way through life. Mary chided him gently, her blue eyes sparkling as she tried to feed her children who were all too skinny for her taste. Roxanne and Jessica sat on the couch side by side, laughing and sharing secrets behind their hands.
The day was full of excitement and the children fell into an exhausted sleep early. John led the adults into the dining area and was breaking out a worn deck of cards and a few poker chips. Sam and Dean were left behind again, good-naturedly accepting the duty of scouring the floor for twisty ties and bits of plastic that needed to be cleaned up.
As they shoved crumbled wrapping paper into plastic bags, Sam discovered one last present beneath the tree, shoved far back in the corner by the wall. He pulled it out, a sick twist spreading through his stomach.
Recognizing Sam's tone as being trouble, Dean dropped his bag and hurried over to Sam. The present was innocuous. Rectangular and wrapped in green and red paper, it was obviously a clothing box. There was no tag, only black marker with their names scrawled on top of it.
"Isn't this one of the presents Missouri gave to us when we were leaving?" Dean asked quietly and Sam nodded.
Carefully he tore the paper away, revealing a white wardrobe box. He opened it, his eyes widening in surprise when he found two handmade sweaters. The large one, obviously made for Sam was green with prancing reindeer stretched across the front. The second one was red with a line of pine trees across the chest.
They pulled them out of the box to look at them, identical expressions of confusion on their faces. A simple piece of lined paper fluttered to their feet and Sam hurriedly picked it up.
May the dreams of your past be the reality of your future.
Sam stared long and hard at the paper and Dean shifted beside him.
"Do you think she knew?" Sam asked softly.
Dean thought about his meeting with the Missouri of the past and her daughter Kansas. How she had waited almost ten years to save them from the corrupt lawmen of Lawrence. How in order to save the life of her child she had made a deal with an angel to save them before they were even born.
"Yah, I think she knew. I think she's always known."
"This is real isn't it, Dean?"
Dean took the paper from Sam's hand, looking it over grimly. Given the choice of what was and what could be, he chose the reality of this future.
"This is real, Sam." Dean intoned steadily, before crumbling up the paper and throwing it into the crackling fireplace.
Sam watched the paper shrivel and blacken, remembering a river of lava and skies of bitter honey. He nodded in acceptance, smiling at his brother as their past burned away into charred pieces of nothing.