Title: Where the Love Light Gleams
Author: Sarah :)
Pairing/Character: Wee!Dean, Wee!Sam, and John, gen.
Word Count: 3518
Summary: It's Christmas time, and John's away on a hunt! Will Sammy get his Christmas after all? Just a little shameless holiday fluff. :)
Spoilers: None. Pre-series.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Yet.
Notes: HUGE thanks to afrocurl for swooping in to do beta duty when my USUAL beta was off partying in Vegas. :) It is much appreciated! Fic title is from the song I'll Be Home For Christmas.
"But he's 'posed to be back in time! He promised!" Sam sat vigilantly by the window, his chubby hands trying to rub the tears out of his eyes. "Where is he, Dean?"
"I don't know, Sammy." Dean walked behind his six-year old brother and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. "There's a lot of snow out there. Maybe he's trying to wait the storm out. 'Sides, he said he'd be back by tomorrow. He's still got time."
"But it's Christmas Eve," Sam clarified. "How can we have Christmas Eve without Daddy? Santa won't come if we're all alone and don't have a tree, or milk and cookies for him, and then we won't get any presents." His carefully-controlled hysteria gave way to a string of hitching sobs. "We won't have any Christmas 'til next year. That's forever, Dean!"
"So? What's so great about Christmas, anyway?" Dean asked. "Besides, we're usually on the road during Christmas. We never have a tree. Why is it such a big deal all of a sudden?"
Sam pulled himself away from Dean and pressed his nose back against the window. "You're only saying that 'cause you hate Christmas. You don't understand." Tears falling freely down his face, he looked up at Dean sadly. "You're just like Dad."
Dean sighed heavily. "Sammy…" Still getting the silent treatment from his brother, Dean waited a minute, then tried again. "I know you want Dad here, but sitting by that window isn't going to make him come back any faster, dude. Want some lunch? We have peanut butter and jelly."
Sam considered this for a minute, then slowly nodded and slid off of the chair. "Grape jelly, please."
"Coming right up."
Exiting the bathroom, Dean heard the quiet sniffles even before he saw his brother sitting on the bed, head buried in a pillow.
"Sammy?" Dean was immediately at his side. "What's wrong? Is everything okay?"
"Go 'way, Dean," Sam mumbled, not lifting his face from the pillow.
"Come on," Dean pleaded, an air of desperation in his voice. "Tell me what it is so I can fix it. Are you still hungry? I can make you another sandwich. Or—"
Finally looking up at Dean, Sam stifled another sob. "Nothing's wrong, really. I'm okay."
Dean frowned. "Just tell me why you're crying, Sammy. Please?"
Sam bit his lip and thought for a moment, then finally shook his head. "No." With that, he shoved the pillow back over his head and turned his back to Dean.
Concern evident on his face, Dean watched Sam for a few moments, unsure of how to help. It was only when he saw the brightly colored insert from the newspaper in Sam's hand, with pictures of green trees and brightly wrapped gifts and happy faces, that Dean recognized the problem. His heart clenched as he watched the small figure on the bed cry himself to sleep.
When he was sure Sam was out for the count, Dean reached out and brushed a lock of hair back from his tear-stained face. It was at that moment that Dean realized what he had to do.
"Where were you?" Sam jumped off of the couch as soon as Dean's head poked through the front door, the older boy struggling to balance the open door with something he had been dragging in the snow. "Dad said you're not 'posed to leave me alone, cause I get up to lots of missif. What's missif, Dean?"
Dean rolled his eyes. "It means you always get into trouble."
"Oh." Sam nodded slowly, then frowned. "I do not! Sometimes I--" His tirade was cut short as a gust of cold air blew in from the still-open door. "It's really cold out there. Why'd you go outside?"
"To get this." With a flourish, Dean pulled the item he had been maneuvering in the narrow space he'd opened in the door since he returned to the hotel room.
It was a Christmas tree.
"Dean," Sam breathed in awe, reaching out to touch one glistening branch of what appeared to be a somewhat-lopsided miniature tree. "Where'd you get it?"
"Found it." He answered succinctly.
"Really?" Sam's eyes lit up. "So we can keep it? For real?"
"Sure can, Squirt. Remember that place selling trees we saw when we got here?"
Sam nodded, still enthralled with the green specter before him.
"Well, as soon as you took your nap," he paused, waiting for Sam to launch into his traditional speech about being far too old for such a practice, and continued when his younger brother remained silent, "I went down there. I figured I'd see if there were any really cheap ones, since it's Christmas Eve, and most people already have their trees by now."
" 'Cept us." Sam's lip quivered.
"Not anymore." Dean grinned. "Anyway, Dad left a little money, so I was gonna try to buy one."
"But you didn't?" Sam's eyes widened. "Dean, did you steal this? Santa's never going to come ever again! You won't even get coal!"
Dean laughed. "Relax, Sammy. I didn't steal the tree, okay? When I got there, the owner was really busy and needed some help cutting twine and stuff. So I helped him, and when I asked him where the cheap ones were, he just gave me this one."
"Yes way. It's kind of small..." Dean looked at the tree skeptically. "And it's missing a whole bunch of branches on one side. And it leans a little." He held his hand sideways in front of his face and squinted, scoping out the tree. "But he said he couldn't sell it, so even though it's kind of lame, I-- "
"It's the bestest tree ever," Sam interrupted. "Even if we can't put any lights or stuff on it."
"Who said we can't put any lights on it?"
"Dean, we don't have any lights. But it's okay!" He continued quickly, stroking the tree branches gently. "Santa will understand."
"Sammy, Sammy, Sammy. Have I taught you nothing? Never do anything halfway." With another grand gesture, Dean dug a short coil of what were unmistakably Christmas lights from his coat pocket.
"Dean." It was all Sammy could articulate. To compensate for his muteness, he barreled into his brother and wrapped his arms around him in a tight hug.
Smoothing his hand over Sam's hair for a moment before he coughed and pulled away, Dean grinned broadly. "Told ya' that the lady in the office thought I was adorable. Otherwise, why would she have let me take these out of the window?" Hefting the tree up and moving it to the corner of the room where it could lean against the wall, Dean draped the modest strand of lights around the slightly bedraggled tree. He turned his other pocket out to Sam to show him it was empty. "I don't have any ornaments in this one, though. Sorry. But the lights are way better anyway, right?"
"Right!" Sam agreed definitively, unable to tear his eyes from the newly-illuminated tree. Taking advantage of his brother's distracted state, Dean surreptitiously shoved a small plastic bag he had been carrying under his shirt behind the couch.
"Okay, good. So can we stop with that whole thing about Santa not coming, right? Because now he'll find us just fine." Getting no response, Dean turned from the couch just in time to see Sam dart over to one of the beds in the cramped hotel room.
"I forgot until now. We do have orn'ments, Dean!" His voice rose in excitement. "We made them at school last week before we moved," his face fell slightly. "Mrs. Turner was really, really nice. I miss her lots."
A pained look crossed Dean's face. "I know, Sammy, but we had to come here. Dad has to get that poltergeist before it hurts more people."
Sam nodded, sniffling a little. "I know."
Doing his best to distract his brother, Dean pointed to the bag clutched in Sam's fist. "Are you going to tell me what you've got in there, or do I have to guess?"
His smile returned. "Look, Dean! I made them all by myself!" Sam carefully revealed his stash. A mass of popsicle sticks glued together that Dean assumed represented a snowflake came first. Then some brown pipe cleaners twisted into round shapes with a red pom-pom nose glued to the end. A small chain made up of red and green paper links followed. Lastly, Sam presented Dean with what appeared to be a piece of construction paper glued to a piece of cardboard, with the name "SAM" scrawled out in large letters and covered in glitter.
"You made these yourself?" Dean asked, raising an eyebrow.
Sam bit his lip. "Maybe I had a little help. But only to make sure my letters were right! I didn't want them to look weird!"
"Of course not," Dean agreed easily. "So, you just gonna stand there, or are you going to hang them up?"
"There's one more orn'ment." Almost bashfully, Sam pulled another item out of the bag and wordlessly handed it to Dean. It was made in the same vein as the "SAM" ornament, but this one had "DEAN" written across it in Sam's wobbly handwriting. And there was a lot less glitter.
"You made this for me?" Dean ran his finger slowly over the letters, and then looked over at his brother.
Sam smiled. "Yep. I didn't even put glitter on, 'cause you'd say it was girly. I drew the Grinch instead," he pointed to a little green blob on the corner of the ornament, "'cause you always say he's really cool. Even though he's mean."
"Only until the end," Dean answered, still distracted by the creation in his hands. "Wow. Thanks, Sammy." Dean ruffled Sam's hair gently. "It's really great."
"Really?" Sam questioned. "You really like it? You're not just saying it?"
Dean leveled Sam with a stare. "Sammy. Do I ever pretend to like something when I don't? Remember the last time Dad cooked dinner?"
"Yes," Sam giggled.
"And the time that old lady kept trying to make me pet that creepy cat of hers?"
"Yeah," Sam laughed. "But the cat was nice, even though you were afraid of it."
"I wasn't afraid of it," Dean sputtered. "That thing was evil, Sammy!"
"'Cause it peed on you?"
"Exactly. So, see, I really do like it. Thanks, dude."
"Welcome!" Sam shouted gleefully, before moving to the tree with his handful of decorations. "Come on, Dean! Help me hang them up!"
As the clock ticked later and later, not even the wonder of a new and shiny Christmas tree was enough to distract Sam from the fact that his father was still absent. Dean flopped down next to him on the couch and shook his head.
"What is it this time?"
"Nothing," Sam said quickly. Dean shrugged, and the two sat in silence for a few moments. "Hey, Dean?"
"Do we have any cookies?"
Dean eyed his brother warily. "Come on. You just ate three bowls of spaghetti, and the ice cream. You're smaller than I am. There's no way you can still be hungry."
"CAN TOO, CAN TOO, CAN TOO!" Sam yelled, leaping up on the couch and bouncing up and down victoriously.
Dean sighed. "So you want the cookies for yourself. To eat."
Sam bit his lip and looked at his hands, then nodded.
"And this in no way has anything to do with anyone who may or may not be delivering presents in the middle of the night getting hungry?"
Sam's lip twitched as he shook his head.
"Good. Because I think that maybe I can come up with something. As long as these cookies are for you, of course. And not anyone else. Especially not someone who could stand to drop a few pounds anyway, and needs a good shave."
"ThankyouDean!" The words spilled out of Sammy's mouth, as he jumped back down to the couch and crawled into his brother's lap.
"Don't thank me yet," Dean told him, maneuvering so he could get up without shoving Sam on the ground. He grabbed his backpack and began to dig inside of it. "I have no idea if they're still...Bingo!" With a triumphant smile, he pulled a small, decidedly squished, package of Oreos out of the bag. "They're kind of gross, though. They were in here that day that the swamp monster spewed all over us." He examined the cookies carefully. "I don't think any of it got in. Think fast!" Dean whipped his arm over his head, and sent the treat flying in Sam's direction.
"Now we're all ready!" Sam clapped. "I hope Santa likes Oreos. Do you think the squishy part gets stuck in his beard? Like that one time Dad ate them, and it was all in his mustache, and he said he had rabies, 'cause it looked really gross?" He took a breath. " 'Cause that'd be really cool."
Dean rolled his eyes. "I thought those cookies were for you, Sammy."
"Oh. Right!" Sam clutched the package tightly. "Um, they are."
"You're such a dork." Shaking his head and muttering, Dean reached down and presented his brother with another equally-smushed box of cookies. "Tell you what. Why don't we leave one of these out for Santa, and we can make some hot chocolate or something and eat the rest ourselves?"
"Okay!" Sam agreed readily. "Pulling them apart and putting them back together is the funnest!"
"How can we even be related?" Dean moaned, looking skyward and smiling when Sam threw a pillow at his head. "Okay, I'll go make the hot chocolate. Why don't you find something to watch?" He glanced at the clock. "I think that Rudolph show you like so much is gonna be on in a few."
"RUDOLPH!" Sam shrieked. "I LOVE RUDOLPH!"
Dean walked to the room's small microwave - its only amenity - and began heating some milk.
"Dean, hurry up, or you'll miss it! I want to watch it with you! We can sing all of the songs and everything!"
Biting the inside of his cheek to stop from smiling, Dean returned and set the steaming mugs on the table. "Be careful with that, okay? It's hot. And there's no way I'm singing along with that lame dentist. When the Grinch is on, then we'll talk."
"DEAN, IT'S STARTING!"
Dean couldn't hide his grin anymore, and he leaned back into the couch while Sam snuggled into his side.
"Sam?" Dean nudged the little boy gently. "It's time to get up, bud. We've got to get you in bed."
"Don' wanna go to bed," Sam slurred sleepily, burrowing further into Dean's warmth. "Wanna sleep here."
"Come on, Sammy. It'll only take a second. It's either this, or I'm gonna have to carry you."
"Night, Dean," Sam sighed, falling quickly back into sleep.
Not having the heart to wake his sleeping brother, Dean sighed and extracted himself from the couch. Throwing one of the comforters over Sam's sleeping form, he quickly grabbed the bag he had stashed behind the couch earlier and got to work.
It was only later, when a few modest gifts wrapped in leftover newspaper lay scattered beneath the tree, and a few extra Oreo cookies and a glass of milk were consumed, that Dean allowed himself to settle back in with his brother and sleep.
"Whawassat?" Dean awoke with a start, glancing frantically around the room for whatever had woken him up. "Sammy? Did you hear that?"
Sam mumbled and shifted around on the couch. Dean tried another tactic.
"Merry Christmas, Sammy!"
It worked like a charm. Sam was up like a shot, his eyes darting all around the room. "Dean, look!" He pointed excitedly. "The cookies are gone! Dean, look! There are PRESENTS!" Sam's face brightened. "Santa found us!"
"I guess he did." Hearing a familiar squeak and a slam outside, Dean perked up, realizing at once what had woken him up.
"Guess what else, Sammy?" He asked, smiling at the sight of Sam's tousled hair and eager grin.
"What?" Sam asked, nearly vibrating with happiness.
"Dad's back. I just heard him pull in."
"Daddy!" Sam shouted, racing for the door. Before Dean could stop him, he somehow had the latch unlocked and was on his way out into the cold.
"Sammy! You're not even wearing shoes! And what about your coat?" Shrugging on his own shoes and jacket, and grabbing Sammy's on his way out, Dean followed his brother. "Sammy? You're gonna freeze out here!"
Running into the parking lot, Dean immediately spied his father, amused smile on his face, scooping up his youngest son.
"Hey there, little guy. What, you've decided you're too good for a coat now?" Trying to work his way into his father's jacket, Sammy flung his arms around John's neck.
"I'm glad you're back, Daddy. Merry Christmas!"
"Geez, Sammy. Don't do that!" Dean caught up to his family and quickly bundled Sam's coat around his shoulders, wrapping it around the little boy. "We don't want you to get sick or anything."
"Thanks, Dean." Squirming into the warm garment, Sam turned his attention again to their father. "Daddy, guess what?"
"Santa came! I thought he wouldn't, since you were gone and we moved, and maybe he couldn't find us, but Dean said that he could anyway, and I didn't believe him. But then Dean got us a tree and we made it really pretty, and it has lights and it's really nice and shiny and cool, and we ate cookies and hot chocolate, and RUDOLPH was on, and Dean let me sleep on the couch, even though it smells funny, and SANTA CAME, and there are lots and lots of presents, and you came back just like you said!"
"Whoa, there, kiddo. Slow down. We have a tree now? And you said something about presents? What presents?"
"Presents from Santa. I didn't get to see how many there were, but I think there were lots of them, and I saw my name on some, 'cause I can read real good now, and I can't wait to open them!"
As Sam continued chattering about the wonders of Christmas, John looked at Dean questioningly. Dean nodded slightly, and his father smiled and reached out to squeeze his shoulder tightly. Dean shrugged, and reached out to muss Sammy's hair.
"What took you so long, Daddy?"
"Sorry about that, boys. Pastor Jim gave me a call, and since I was only a few hours out, I stopped in to see him for a bit. Then we got this storm, so I spent the night, and almost didn't make it back in time." As he spoke, John imperceptibly motioned to the back seat, and then back to Sam. Dean followed the signal and saw a bag of presents sitting in the backseat. Grateful that his brother hadn't had a chance to analyze exactly what was under the tree, Dean did his best to buy a distraction so his father could go and add to Santa's stash.
"Hey, Sammy? What's that?" Dean questioned, allowing John to hand his brother over to him so Sam's socked feet remained off the ground. Shifting Sam in his arms and walking a few steps so their backs were toward the car and John's stealth efforts at wrestling the gifts into the room, he pointed to something on the ground. "Do you see it?"
"That." Dean nudged the mass with his boot. "Know what that is?"
Sam shook his head, still staring at the object.
"Reindeer turd," Dean proclaimed loudly, causing his brother to giggle. "Santa was totally here."
"Dean! It is not reindeer turd!"
"Is so, is so, is so," Dean finished.
"How do you know?" Sam asked, wriggling around in Dean's arms to get a better view, his curiosity getting the most of him.
"I don't know. I guess I just know lots about turd."
"Ewww!" Sam shrieked. "Gross!"
"Yeah, I'm like, a turdologist or something. I know my turd."
"Dean!" Sam laughed again, then looked thoughtfully at the pile on the ground. "I guess it could be. They have to go sometime."
"Unless they wear reindeer diapers! Do you think Santa would change them, or would he make Mrs. Claus do it?"
Dean swiveled his neck just in time to see John giving him a thumbs-up from the window. "I don't know. You'd think they'd make a Christmas special about that. That's the stuff that's really important, you know?"
As he turned to make his way back to the room, Dean paused when Sam's arms wrapped around him. "This is the best Christmas ever. Merry Christmas, Dean."
"Yeah," Dean smiled. "I guess it is. Merry Christmas, Sammy."
John waited at the door as his two boys entered the room, and all three prepared to celebrate the holiday together. As a family.