'Til Next Time

Summary : An alternate ending to A Very Supernatural Christmas

Disclaimer: Don't own a thing.

Call me the product of a bygone era, but girlie mags and motor oil just ain't gettin' it done for me. Feel free to ignore this little re-do and stick with what the pros came up with. This is just me making myself feel better. 'Cause it's Christmas. Fluff and brotherly love are kinda the point…

Sam sat on the bed staring at the motel room door. Dean had left well over an hour ago. Sam thought he'd probably gone for a drink and his brother's demeanor had told him that he didn't want company.

For about the hundredth time since he'd heard the Impala roar away from the motel, Sam considered going after Dean anyway. There was a bar just down the road. He was probably there, staring into his beer, annoyed with Sam for refusing to have a proper Christmas with him.

Sam just couldn't do it. After what had happened with the Christmas Couple from Hell, the thought of fruitcake and eggnog was nauseating. Of course, the thought of fruitcake was always nauseating…

He sighed and rubbed a hand over his face. That was a cop out and he knew it. Dean. It all came down to him. Sam was exhausted with trying to come up with a way to save Dean and he was no closer to a solution. Sam just couldn't make himself pretend that everything was ok, that it was time to celebrate. He'd celebrate when he broke the deal.

Sam's ears suddenly perked up. The Impala was back. Apparently Dean wasn't too plastered to drive. That was encouraging at least. Sam didn't think he could deal with a maudlin drunk right now.

The door flew open and Dean walked in carrying several plastic grocery bags and wearing a Santa hat, a full-on fuzzy red hat with white fur trim. He didn't quite look at Sam as he kicked the door closed behind him, shrugged off his leather coat, then walked to the table and set the bags down.

Sam watched as he began rummaging through the bags. First he pulled out a DVD. Dean pulled off the plastic wrapping, opened the laptop and popped the disc in. After several seconds, the DVD began playing and Sam was surprised to see a fire. That was the entire video. Someone had filmed a fireplace. Sam could hear the fire crackling and although the room was no warmer, his imagination had him feeling the warmth brushing over his skin.

Next, Dean pulled out a carrier that had two large foam cups. He pulled off the lids and Sam could see steam rising. Dean dug around in the grocery bags again and blocked Sam's view momentarily. When he turned around, he was carrying the cup and held it out to Sam.

"Cocoa," Dean said, then smiled almost proudly, "Had to get some marshmallows for it."

Sam took the cup from him and looked down into it to see that indeed there were little white marshmallows melting in the cocoa. "Thanks."

Dean walked back to the bags and Sam couldn't help wondering what else his brother had managed to find on his scavenger hunt.

Dean pulled a box out, but Sam was just far enough away that he couldn't tell what it was. Dean pulled the plastic wrap off, opened the box and pulled out more little bags containing what looked like several paper tubes and a bunch of green paper. Dean set the box down and shoved one of the paper tubes into a hole in the top of the box. The other tubes fit over the ones below it to make one long tube about a foot and half high. Once that was done, Dean started attaching the pieces of green paper, turning the box as he attached each piece.

It was a Christmas tree. A little, paper, build-it-yourself Christmas tree. Dean was humming to himself while he attached the miniature paper ornaments that were included in the package. It took Sam a second or two, but he finally recognized the tune.

God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay…

Sam couldn't keep from mentally following along and barely managed to keep from shaking his head as he realized what it was he was singing.

To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Watching Dean continue to put the tree together, Sam couldn't help but be amazed at his brother's never ending ability to eek out some tiny bit of happiness in the worst possible circumstances. Dean could purposely forget details, he could compartmentalize, he could laugh off whatever parts he didn't want to think about… And in the end, Sam had to wonder if that wasn't better. His brother seemed to be happier for it.

Dean finished putting the tree together, and although it was a pathetic little thing, he sat back and looked at it proudly, taking a swig from his hot chocolate. He reached over to the laptop, turned up the volume and smiled at the more easily audible crackling of the fire.

"Need some chestnuts," Sam heard Dean murmur before taking another sip from his cup.

"I think I've got a leftover packet of peanuts in my bag," Sam said.

Dean laughed, glancing over at him, and Sam was sorry to see that his glance was almost wary, trying to gauge how Sam was reacting to the impromptu festivity.

"Somehow 'Peanuts roasting on an open laptop' just doesn't have the same ring."

Sam smiled. "Pretty sure they're already roasted."

"Well, where's the fun in that?" Dean asked, the wariness quickly leaving at Sam willingness to play along.

"We don't have to run for it when we try to burn down the motel?"

"There is that," Dean answered. "They get so mad when we set the rug on fire. Can't imagine why."

"Too uptight." Sam nodded as if he were really putting some thought into it. "Probably got coal in their stockings when they were little."

Dean gave an answering nod. "Naughty kids end up motel night clerks. I can believe that."

"What does that make us?" Sam asked, one eyebrow raised.

"I'm pretty sure Santa has a list just for people like us," Dean said thoughtfully.

"Hard cases?"

Dean grinned. "Special cases."

"Nut cases, more like it," Sam muttered.

"You back to nuts?" Dean asked. "Think you've got a fixation."

"Man, we stabbed two people with a Christmas tree today. I think that qualifies as nuts even in our world."

"One, they weren't people, and two, I'm trying to think of it as a unique method of decorating."

"I know I'll never look at a Christmas tree the same way." Sam snorted and shook his head. His attention was drawn back, however, when Dean reached behind him and started fishing in his jacket pockets.

"I, uh… I know you're not feeling the Christmas vibe, but… here." He held out an envelope.

Sam leaned forward and took it, sensing his brother's eyes on him. He flipped the envelope over, slid his fingers beneath the flap and pulled out the card. Sam had expected a cheesy card, something cartoonish, something crude, or funny, something more Dean. Instead it was beautiful, a glittering, snow-covered scene of idyllic Christmastime. Normal. Sam looked up at his brother. He'd told Dean how unhappy he was with Christmases past and Dean was trying.

"You were expecting a reindeer fart joke, weren't you?"

Sam laughed and nodded. "They've gotta be jet propelled after all." He opened the card. It was blank inside except for one short line of Dean's handwriting.

One argument, no questions asked.


Dean cleared his throat nervously. "I thought about getting you that hairnet you've been eyeing, but I decided this was better."

Sam just looked at him, unsure what to say.

"Don't go using your powers for evil or anything," Dean warned. "You get to win the argument, but I get to hold it against you if it goes horribly wrong."

Sam just stood and walked to the little table between the two beds. He picked up the pen and pad of paper sitting on it, and scribbled out a few words. He ripped off the sheet and handed it to Dean.

"What's this?" he asked.

Sam waggled the paper in front of him, ordering him to take it. "It's for you."

Dean hesitated, then finally reached out and took it. He frowned, trying to discern the words. "One Christmas," he read aloud. "Sam." He looked back up, his brow still furrowed. "I don't get it."

Sam shrugged. "It's a raincheck."


"For next Christmas," he explained. "Cause you're gonna be there. The full deal. Complete with cranberry mold."

Dean looked back down at the slip of paper in his hand, holding it carefully, almost reverently. With his other hand, he scratched his fingers through his hair, setting his Santa hat slightly askew. Even unintentionally, Dean managed to make a Santa hat look naughty and Sam almost laughed.

Dean put the piece of paper under the Christmas tree and patted it for good measure, an indecipherable smile on his face. Then he looked up, a real smile this time, the one he used just for Sam. "Merry Christmas, Sammy."

Sam gave him an answering smile. "Next time, Dean."

Thank you for indulging me. Merry Christmas!