John enjoys kindergarten. He goes every day and everyday he has something new to tell Sam and Dean.
They make dinner the most important meal of the day. They make sure that all three of them sit around the table, eating home cooked hotdogs and fries, talking about their day.
Sam and Dean have an unwritten rule; they don't talk about hunting, ever.
As far as John is concerned, when Sam and Dean are out of town, they are working, just working away from home. Bobby takes care of him then and he seems to like that. He loves the dogs, loves the cars and enjoys getting messy and dirty. Dean likes that Bobby taught John how to swear in Latin. Sam rolls his eyes and gives Bobby evil looks. Bobby ignores him.
Today, two weeks to Christmas, John is subdued. He doesn't say much, just pushes his hotdog around his plate, staring at it like it might be possessed. Dean exchanges a worried glance with his brother and Sam bends towards John, big hand resting on his son's hair, shocked when John doesn't shake it away.
"What is it?" Sam said, soft. "Someone upset you at school?"
"No," John can be sullen at times and has perfected a miniature version of his daddy's bitch faces.
"Someone hurt you?" Sam tries to keep the anger and concern out of his voice and watches as his son shakes his head, chestnut bangs falling into his face.
"Chick problems?" Dean interjects, only to receive a mirrored bitch face look from Sam.
John smiles, dimpling slightly, and then he shakes his head again, mouth falling again.
Sam shakes his head and Dean shrugs. They eat in silence, hoping that John might confess. Instead the boy just gets quieter, shockingly going to bed without any desert.
Dean vows to kick Kindergarten kids ass's. Sam vows to speak to Mrs Williams.
Both go to bed and lie sleepless for hours, wondering where they went wrong.
"Ah Mr Winchester," Mrs Williams strides towards Sam and he feels as if he is two feet tall, almost crushed under her booming enthusiasm, "you must be so proud of your son, he is so good in the part, so good and we are all looking forward to the actual show. No doubt you and your brother will be coming."
Sam's, 'Huh?' is a little choked and Mrs Williams frowns, realisation dawning.
"He hasn't told you," she smacks her hand on her forehead, "oh I am so foolish, so silly, I never thought, oh dear, oh dear."
Sam frowns, wondering if John's teacher has cracked, if teaching John has sent her over the edge.
"Told me what?" he says finally, eyes wandering over to where Dean is leaning against the Impala, leather jacket collar turned up against the cold, green eyes narrowed, giving twenty terrified looking four year olds what looks like a death stare.
"We are having a nativity play," Mrs Williams lets out a huge sigh, still shaking her head, "all the children have parts and all the parents, well, all the parents are asked to make their costumes," she glances over at Sam with some sympathy, "usually it is the mom of course, but – but in this case…"
"And John has a good part?" Sam ignores her look of pity, thinking only of his son.
"John is playing Joseph," Mrs Williams smiles warmly, "he is a great actor Mr Winchester, you have no idea."
Sam looks out of the window again, his eyes on his brother, a strange warmth and fondness welling up in him as he thinks of Doctors, FBI agents, Wildlife rangers and even Priests.
"Yeah – I do," he says, "that doesn't surprise me, not really."
"Anyway," Mrs Williams touches his arm. "he needs a blue robe, blue headdress and a staff," she smiles, "and don't you worry, I can sort it out."
"No," Sam shakes his head, determined now, "no problem Mrs Williams, he'll have his costume, he'll have a costume to be proud of."
Stitching cotton isn't quite the same as stitching flesh, Sam discovers. It seems more fiddlely somehow, the stitches having to be neat and almost invisible. Bobby, who is staying with them for Christmas, bends over the table; glue on his fingers and thumbs, in his beard and even on his hat. He grumbles under his breath in frustration, staring at Sam every now and again, eyes narrowing.
Dean's tongue is stuck between his teeth, he holds the checked towel on his lap, needle going in and out of the cotton, as he sews the blue headband onto the material.
All three men work into the night, eyes sore, fingers aching.
By morning the costume is ready and when John comes down to breakfast his eyes light up as he stares at it, laid out on the table, staff leaning against the edge.
"This rocks," he runs small fingers across the cloth, smile so wide it almost splits his face.
"Do we get to come and watch you?" Dean smiles, "do we get to eat candy and get the best seats in the house?"
"Of course," John slaps his uncle on the arm and gives his dad's hand an inperceptive squeeze. It is the closest thing to a hug that Sam is going to get but he feels it just the same, his heart swelling with pride.
They are going to have a happy Christmas after all.
Dean isn't crying, not at all, just has something in his eye. He presses the video camera to his eyes, trying to keep it steady, following his nephew's progress across the stage. He glances over at Sam, grinning as his princess of a brother, wipes at his face, hiding behind his too-long bangs, his gaze never wavering.
As the nativity comes to an end and the children take their bow, John's uneven blue robe hangs loosely around his bare feet, his crooked staff clutched hot in his hands, his headdress tipped back from his head, the band already coming loose from the towel.
Mrs Williams winks at them from the footlights and feels her own heart swell.
It might not be the most expensive or the neatest, but it is the best costume out there, because it was made with the finest material ever.