Even Merlin Can Fall
Author: Tara 'aka' LovinJackson
Summary: Brotherhood AU. Christmas is a time of giving but disaster strikes when one of their own gives a little too much.
Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural or the Brotherhood but damn its christmas .. i wouldnt say no to Dean or Caleb under my tree christmas morning :P No copyright infringement intended.
A/N: Hi! I wanted to get this finished before Christmas Day and for once I actually managed to do that ... and with a couple of days to spare too. Yay me :P Thanks to Mum and Angelustatt as per usual for their invaluable help with this. All mistakes are my own. That's to Ridley for letting me know I was off to the right start and letting me play in her sandbox. I hope she likes the rest of it. I hope you all like it :) I'll shup up now and let you read ...
Even Merlin Can Fall
The large black muscle car pulled to a stop in front of the farm house, her doors creaking as they were opened reminding her owner of his own tired and weary bones, the cold December air not helping matters.
John Winchester was far from old but he'd be lying if he said he hadn't noticed the popping and creaking in his bones where before there was only agile grace, honed from years of practice and training … as a marine and as a hunter.
He sat quietly in the drivers seat and listened to his sons bickering, a sound that had been grating on his nerves for the last few hundred miles it had taken them to get to Jim Murphy's farm. They couldn't have arrived sooner because John was sure that if he had to spend another minute listening to sniping and name calling and god knows what else his children could come up with to drive him insane Jim wouldn't have any children to entertain at Christmas.
Sam was first out of the car, rushing out to greet a barking Scout. The ten year old was more than happy to escape the confines of his prison and escape his brother. John watched as Sam went down to his knees to give the dog a good healthy head rub. The excitable black lab was jumping and barking and for a moment John wondered if something was up but immediately dismissed his paranoid thoughts and put it down to the fact that Scout hadn't seen Sam in a while. She was just excited was all.
The sulking – soon to be - fifteen year old next to him glared at his brother before shoving open his own door and closing it with surprising gentleness. The car was in Dean's good graces … his younger brother not so much.
This was an odd situation. John had never seen two siblings as close as what his sons were and that was one thing he was proud of … that Mary would have been proud of. But living out of each others pockets all day, everyday, came with its drawbacks and that's when light-hearted, teasing banter turned into arguments, both boys deliberately baiting the other. This time around it had ended with John loosing his temper, shouting and banning any talking, any music … breathing was about the only thing that was allowed. He hadn't even wanted them to think at each other, because John was sure that if they could they would.
Why hadn't anyone told him that having children would be this exhausting? And why oh fucking why hadn't anyone warned him about the teenage years? He should have been prepared. Despite what Caleb seemed to think, he hadn't been this age forever. He had been a teenager.
Sometimes he sat back and really gave himself a moment to enjoy the amazing people he and Mary had brought into the world and sometimes he wanted to smack them both upside the head and tell them to wake up to themselves, which he had done on occasion … to Caleb too.
One thing that had John stumped right now was the fact that he didn't even know what this fight was about and he knew all too well that it didn't have to be about anything in particular to escalate.
Dean was usually fine, happy even as far as John could see, so when he did get in this rare mood John wasn't sure what to do with it, which was probably one big reason why Dean had trouble dealing with his feelings. It wasn't like he had meant to pass on the bad parts of his personality. Mary would probably laugh at him now. She'd always warned him that he would end up with a son just like him … just so happened that he'd ended up with two who held equal parts of John Winchester and most importantly the Winchester stubbornness.
The sound of Jim's screen door slamming broke John from his self pity at dealing with his own offspring. Sam was standing, staring at the house, Scout nipping at his shirt sleeve, attempting to pull Sam towards the house.
John exited the car, ignoring the popping sensation in his knees and stifling a groan as his body woke up and realised he was moving after hours upon hours sitting in the same position behind the wheel. He refused to admit that he was getting old and if he ignored the signs then he didn't have to acknowledge it … until Caleb called him on it.
John sighed, an ironic smile touching his lips as he looked heavenward. What had he done to deserve an annoying psychic on top of everything else? Jim kept telling him it was fate. Caleb had more than once told him it was fates way of paying them back for having to put up with him. Well Fate had a funny sense of humour … or simply had it in for him. John hadn't quite worked out which it was yet.
Shutting the car door John walked over to Sam, deciding to leave the bags in the car for now. "How you doin', Sammy?"
Sam just shrugged and looked down to the black furry head he was patting. "I'm okay."
John raised an eyebrow at Sam's lack of detailed discussion on what was wrong. Sam had never been one to hold back what he was thinking, always ready to jump in and give his opinion whether it was wanted or not. Now, apparently, Sam was taking a page out of his brother's book. Just fucking fantastic.
"You want to tell me what's goin' on with you two?" John asked, placing an arm around Sam's shoulder and giving him a squeeze. After all the tired rambling in his head, John loved his boys and something was bothering them. Physical shows of affection weren't a regular occurrence in the Winchester household … but technically they weren't in a house, not yet anyway and John just wanted the boys to be friends again.
"Not really," Sam answered quietly but not moving from John's side.
John stood back, placing a hand on the boy's shoulder before kneeling in front of him. His knees could bitch at him later. "I already got the 'its nothing' speech from your brother, Sam. It's not flying, now out with it."
Sam rolled his eyes in that irritating teenage way and John frowned. Sam was ten and it was already starting? God, help him. "Sam, I'm tired and believe it or not I just want to help." He wasn't always the ogre Sam seemed to think he was lately … at least he didn't think he was.
Anything Sam might have said came crashing to a halt at the sound of Dean's scream from the house. John gripped Sam's shoulders with both hands as the kid went to take off towards the house. The alarm in Dean's voice had his stomach turning to ice but if something was wrong inside he didn't want Sam getting caught up in it as well. One son in dire straits was enough. "Sam, I want you to go to the car, lock the doors and stay down, okay?"
"Now, Sam!" John ordered his voice brokering no argument. He let go of his son's shoulders and watched as after only another moment of hesitation, Sam scrambled back to the car, pulling Scout with him. He inwardly cringed at the thought of the black labs paws on the leather. Now was not the time to worry about that.
John moved fast and steady towards the house, pulling his pistol from the back waist band of his jeans. Jim's was protected. It was safe here – at least from the supernatural, but it wouldn't be the first time human forces had disturbed the quiet home.
Hurried footsteps could be heard approaching the door and John stepped back, ready for anything. The door was wrenched open and Dean rushed out, almost crashing into his father in his haste. "Dad!"
"Whoa…"John stopped Dean from hurtling them down the front steps, his gun still in his hand. "Hold up. Where's the fire, Ace?"
Dean sucked in a large breath as impossibly large alarmed eyes fixed onto his. "Dad, its Jim."
John felt his chest close up on him and his stomach drop. He was more than familiar with loss and he wasn't ready for this. He wouldn't ever be ready for this. His mouth felt dry.
The alarm in Dean's eyes swapped to confused concern in a matter of moments as the colour leeching from John's face registered. "Dad? You okay?" Dean clutched his arm.
John mentally shook off his moment of panic and met Dean's wide gaze. "I'm fine. Where's Jim?"
"He's in the Hunters Tomb. I … I found him just lying on the floor, Atticus curled up next to him."
"Is there anyone else in there?" If the threat was still in the house, a threat good enough to take down the Guardian, then John needed to deal with it.
Dean shook his head and then started pulling on his fathers arm, leading him into the house. "It's just Pastor Jim. Dad, I couldn't wake him up."
John cautiously entered the house and was on alert as he followed quickly behind Dean who had now taken off for the stairs that in the kitchen that led to the Hunters Tomb. Dean took the steps two at a time and almost skidded to a stop at Jim's side, Atticus looking up and whined at their entrance.
John entered slower, taking in the immediate area, looking for signs of foul play. There was nothing out of the ordinary from what John's trained eye could see aside from the Guardian slumped on his front, an open text lying next to his open hand.
Finding nothing to go on for the time being, John finally allowed his gaze to rest on Jim. The man was breathing – that much was obvious. It should have been comforting except for the fact that Jim's breathing was forced and shaky. Placing a hand to his friends head, John felt the heat. Jim had a fever and his skin held a bluish tone that was not at all making John feel any better.
"Dad?" Dean was looking at him like he had all the answers, all earlier anger and sulkiness gone like it had never been there. There was fear in Dean's eyes and he was asking John to make this alright. This was Jim.
"Go call 911, son."
"He's going to be okay though, right?" Dean asked, standing slowly.
"Of course he is." The answer came quickly and sounded a lot stronger than John felt right at that moment. Jim would be fine because John Winchester fucking said so. "Go, Dean. Now."
Dean spared Jim another wary glance that held so much childlike innocence it almost took John's breath away. Dean and loss didn't go well together and seeing Jim Murphy, of all people like this was shaking Dean to his very core. John could have been blind and been able to tell that. But just like that Dean's eyes faded into resolve and John's reliable soldier had taken the place of the scared child. John hated himself but he was thankful for the change.
Once Dean was out of the room, John reached out with a hand and pressed two fingers to Jim's throat, looking for the pulse. "Too fast," John grumbled. If he expected Dean to stay calm then he needed to as well. He was the adult … and the Knight for fucks sake.
He was the Knight.
John scrubbed a hand down his face, stubble scratching against his hand. Jim had appointed him as the Knight of the Brotherhood. It was his job to make sure nothing happened to Jim – yet here the older man was unconscious and struggling to breathe.
John stood and moved towards Atticus and nudged the faithful dog so that he could get better access to the pastor. "You did good, boy." John muttered, having mind to give Atticus a grateful pat as the dog moved and stood sentry over his master.
He took Jim's shoulders in hand and turned the man over so that he was lying on his back before lifting his upper body so that he was lying in John's lap. There wasn't much that John could do before the ambulance arrived but he hoped that he could at least ease Jim's breathing, make him more comfortable. Jim stirred and moaned but otherwise remained in oblivion.
"Jim, what the hell?" John asked out loud even though he knew his friend wouldn't answer.
Two sets of footsteps came barrelling down the stairs and when John turned around he wasn't surprised to see both of his sons standing there, shock on their faces. Sam was standing so close to his older brother that John was surprised they weren't one person. Apparently both Winchester waring parties had called a truce. John had wanted to see it but not this way. Why couldn't anything ever be simple? Why couldn't good happen just because?
"The Ambulance is on the way, Dad."
"Good, Dean. That's good." John assured him. "You boys wanna go out to the end of the road and make sure the ambulance doesn't miss us?"
Dean nodded, his eyes not leaving Jim's form. "Yes Sir." He backed up, dragging Sam with him and John heard their footsteps quicken.
John looked down at Jim. "Just hang in there, old friend. You'll be fine."
Waiting was always the worst. Dean couldn't stand the waiting in a hospital. It gave you way too much time to think and come up with all the worst case scenarios. He should have been used to it. He couldn't count the amount of times he had been in one. But this time it was different.
This time it was Pastor Jim.
Dean was terrified to lose anyone. He never ever liked seeing Dad in hospital, or Caleb, Bobby, Mac or even worse … Sammy. But he had in some way or another, every single one of them and it shook him every single time but he expected it … even Sam to some degree because despite his age they still lead a dangerous life and they weren't always the ones that went looking for trouble. The kidnapping orchestrated by Griffin Porter five years earlier was proof that bad things still happened even when they were minding their own business.
Merlin lived in his protected castle and he watched over them all. He wasn't supposed to be hurt. It was Jim. Those three words kept playing on repeat in his mind like a broken record. He wouldn't get the image of the pastor lying on the floor. It wouldn't leave him alone.
Dean raised his eyes as his father walked past him again. The man had been pacing like a caged tiger for the last half an hour … god, was that really all it had been? It unsettled Dean to see his father so worried. It kind of brought the whole situation home. This was serious.
Dean needed air. Sam had been attached to his side and at this point he was starting to feel like a ten year old growth was stuck to him. Any anger at Sam he'd had before rocking up at Jim's had totally vanished and he regretted how harsh he had been with the kid. He didn't even really remember why they had been fighting but it had been stupid and he had been a real jerk, granted Sam had been a real bitch but it was still no excuse.
His guilt and relieve over Sam aside, Dean needed air and he needed it now. He just needed a moment to breathe without Sam hovering and asking if he was okay, because as if he wouldn't be – on the surface anyway.
Extracting himself from the Sammy pretzel on the couch next to him, Dean paused as his movement stopped John in mid pace, Sam's mouth was already forming his name. Looking at both of them, Dean jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "I'm just going to get some air."
"Can I come?"
Dean used all his self control to not groan because he didn't want to give Sam the wrong impression. He wasn't trying to get away from the kid. He was just feeling suffocated and needed a moment to himself. "Nah, stay with Dad, Sammy."
"Because I need you here, Sammy," Dad answered suddenly, taking the heat off Dean. Dean was now actually interested in what excuse Dad was going to use. It was bound to be interesting. John stopped moving and there was only a few seconds thought before his posture became easier. "If we get to see Jim before you brother gets back you don't want to scare Jim by having my mug being the first thing he sees would you?"
Dean almost cracked a smile as he watched the exchange. Sam scrunched his nose up skeptically, giving Dad the 'who are you kidding?' look that he had perfected a long time ago.
"Believe me, kiddo. Jim would appreciate waking up to you more than me."
Sam looked from John to Dean, mulling it over before nodding, relaxing back against the couch, his feet barely reaching the linoleum floor. "Okay."
John held up a hand, indicating that he wanted Dean to hold up for a moment before he walked over, pulling his wallet from the back pocket of his jeans. He pulled out a twenty and held it out for Dean to take. "Why don't you bring us back something to eat and drink?"
Dean took the money and shoved it in the front pocket of his own jeans. "Thanks Dad." Dean turned and left before he was stalled any longer, thankful that Dad had gone to bat for him with Sam. Thankful that Sam had let it slide. He would be back soon enough and he would give his brother his full attention but right now he needed air before he suffocated in the uncertainty of Jim's fate.
The rush of cold air that hit Dean's face had made him gasp, pulling in oxygen deep. It felt nice to breathe actual air instead of the stuffy regulated atmosphere inside the waiting room.
A week before Christmas and here he was standing out the front of a hospital waiting on word of a loved one. Were they cursed? Did someone have to nearly die every Christmas? It kinda put a damper on any enthusiasm Dean might have conjured up.
There was a bench a few feet a way and Dean walked over to it and sat down, folding his hands together in front of him. He felt like he was going crazy. Jim was in there fighting and Dean couldn't do a damn thing. Dad couldn't do a damn thing.
Dean pulled out his cell phone and flipped it open. No missed calls, no messages. The only people that would possible contact him were here at the hospital and if they weren't then they were on their way … everyone except Caleb.
Concentrating on the phone in his hand, Dean realised that he had automatically brought up his contact list. He hadn't come outside to call anyone but as Caleb's name blinked onto the screen Dean was tempted to press the call button. He needed to talk to someone who wasn't there. Dad and Mac had agreed over the phone that they couldn't contact Caleb until they knew what they were dealing with. Dean supposed it was their way of protecting him.
Dean hesitated, his thumb poised over the call button. Was he technically disobeying an order if Dad had never actually said 'that's an order'? Dean shrugged. For once he didn't care if he was walking a line … this was Jim.
He pressed down on the call button and pressed the phone to his ear, listening to it ring a few times before the call was picked up on the other end, a familiar voice making him swallow hard.
"Deuce, don't tell me you miss me already?"
A laugh bubbled up Dean's throat that he thought had more to do with just hearing a friendly voice that wasn't aware of what was going on than the actual teasing. He had only just spoken to Caleb the day before when the psychic had called to let the Winchesters know when he would be arriving at the farm. They had been planning a prank. That seemed a long time ago now even though it had only been the day before.
"Is everything okay?" Caleb asked when nothing but the short laugh came through the phone.
"Something's happened …"
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," Dean reiterated more forcefully. "It's …"
"Is Sammy okay? John? Where are you?"
"Dude!" Dean rolled his eyes at his friend's erratic questions.
"Shut up for two seconds and maybe I can get a word in."
There was silence on the other end and Dean shivered, the cold December air really starting to make itself more known and making Dean regret even more not taking his jacket with him.
After a few moments in which Dean imagined Caleb had calmed himself down, the psychic spoke. "Talk."
Dean sucked in a large breath of icy air and steeled himself for the unpleasant news he was about to deliver to his best friend. "It's Jim."
Dean could already hear the dread in his friend's voice. "Something's wrong with him."
"What do you mean something's wrong with him?"
Dean growled in frustration, raising a hand to his hair, gripping it tightly and relishing the small amount of pain it brought. "I don't know. The doctors haven't told us yet."
"The doctors? Where the hell are you?"
"Louisville." Dean sighed, dropping his hand to rest on his hip instead, looking down at his boots.
"What happened?" Sounds on the other end of the phone could be heard and Dean knew Caleb was hastily packing things.
"I don't know. We got to the farm and I went inside. Atticus was barking in the tomb so I went down to look and he was just laying there … on the floor."
There was silence again, like Caleb had also stopped moving. "Who Atticus?"
"Not Atticus, dickhead. Jim. We called an ambulance…"
"Does Dad know?"
Dean nodded despite the fact Caleb could obviously not see him through the phone line. "Yeah, Dad called him when we first got here. He's already on his way."
"So am I."
"What?" There was the sound of a door clicking shut and then Caleb's fast foot-falls.
"Dad and Mac didn't want to tell you yet, until they know more. I wasn't supposed to call you."
"Why the hell not?"
Dean shrugged again, looking back towards the double sliding doors that lead back to where his father and Sam were waiting. "They didn't want you rushing here. Didn't want to worry you."
Caleb laughed but it was anything but amused. "Screw that. I'm coming now."
"Don't sweat it, Han, I'll tell them I felt a disturbance in the force."
Dean did smirk at that, rolling his eyes good naturedly this time. "Just don't kill yourself getting here, Obi-Wan."
The engine of Caleb's jeep gunned in the background and something in Dean relaxed.
"You know me."
He snorted. "That's what worries me, dude."
"Just take it easy, Kiddo. Everything is going to be okay."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because it's Christmas," Caleb answered as though it was obvious.
"Right," Dean replied wistfully. "Well be careful all the same. We don't know what did this yet."
"I promise I will be a good boy. I'll see you as soon as I can."
The line went silent for a few beats before Caleb cut the connection and Dean closed his eyes, slowly lowering the phone. He remembered back to Caleb's little speech about Christmas miracles two years earlier.
Dean looked up at the sky from under the arched roof of the hospital entrance and hoped that they got another miracle this Christmas. Dean wasn't a moron. He was fourteen and hadn't believed in Santa for a long time, didn't exactly know whether he believed in God or angels either but he prayed that if the big guy did exist that he repay the faith that Pastor Jim showed him everyday. He couldn't handle losing anyone else … not Jim.
Dean jumped at the sound of his brother's unexpected voice. He spun around and shoved his phone in the front pocket of his jeans and walked over to the kid who looked impossibly small. Dean wasn't sure whether it was that fact that Sam was swimming in his jacket or whether he had some bad news.
"Sammy, thought you were staying with Dad?"
Sam shrugged one shoulder. "He sent me out to get you. The doctor came out to talk to him."
Dean felt like his insides had frozen with the possibilities running through his mind. He didn't want to move, afraid that if he went forward now that he would hear what he didn't want to. Maybe if he just stayed out here the truth would stay frozen like the pond at the farm was.
"Dean, you okay?"
Dean shook himself out of his frozen state and then shivered. "Is he okay?" He wasn't sure he really wanted to hear the answer but he also was comforted by the fact that Sam wasn't bawling his eyes out … that had to mean something.
"I don't know. Dad sent me out here the moment the doctor came out."
Dean reached out and patted Sam on his shoulder and then pulled him forward before turning him around and nudging him back toward the door. "Let's go and find out then." Jim would be fine. There was no other alternative.
With a click of the door, Caleb pushed it open, sticking his head around it to look inside. The early morning light was shining through the slatted blinds covering the window. It lighted the room enough for Caleb to be able to scan the room. One bed was occupied, as was the chair beside it. He didn't need to actually see to know who he would find.
The psychic quietly slipped into the room and leaned back on the door to close it. He stayed there leaning back against the closed door, his gaze resting on the pale form of Pastor Jim.
The drive had been long and arduous, the icy patches of road forcing him to keep vigilant, to concentrate. The last thing he needed to do was end up losing control of his jeep and spending the remainder of the night in a cold ditch. He'd promised Dean he would be careful and he didn't think the others would appreciate him killing himself … accidentally or not. It was hard to drive safely and fast at the same time but he had and after having driven all through the night he was finally standing in Jim's room.
He hadn't thought he could feel more tired but he was wrong. Jim's still form in the hospital bed, under starch white bedding seemed to suck the rest of his strength out from under him. He tipped his head back against the door and closed his eyes and let out the breath he had been holding since Dean's call.
Dean's groggy voice had Caleb snapping to. He straightened up and pushed away from the door, rolling the stiffness the long car ride had produced out of his shoulders. "No. It's your fairy godmother." He deadpanned.
"When did you get here?" Dean ignored the jibe and sat up, rubbing at his eyes and then his short hair.
"Just now," Caleb answered, glancing at Jim before giving his attention back to Dean. "Where are the others?" He walked around the bed, ruffling Dean's hair as he past him, messing it further before Dean ducked away from him. He leant against the window sill, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Dad took Sammy back to the farm. Mac should be around here somewhere." Dean looked down at his watch. "I fell asleep."
"No kidding." Caleb smirked and then became serious. "So what do we know? I'm surprised Johnny didn't station guards outside the Guardians room."
"False alarm, Damien." Dean sighed and rested back in the chair.
"What do you mean?"
"This wasn't an attack. Jim got pneumonia."
To say that was what he had been expecting would have been a lie. He had ruled out Supernatural attack because Jim had been found at the farm but anything else was fair game. It wouldn't have been the first time human factors had come after the Guardian. Griffin's coup had been almost five years ago but it was still fresh in Caleb's mind. Dean had been the one to end up with a bad case of pneumonia then.
Caleb uncrossed his arms and placed them on either side of him, leaning forward. "Pneumonia? Really? How'd he manage that?"
"He mumbled something about a heffer and snow."
Caleb raised an eyebrow and turned to look down at his friend. "Bobby's been playing snowman?" he joked.
"Hilarious." Dean rolled his eyes.
Caleb snorted, shook his head and let his gaze rest on Jim's still form. It was strange. It wasn't like he spent a lot of time watching Jim sleep. And Jim was more likely to need to sit vigil by his bedside than the other way around. This was new and he didn't like it.
"So…" Caleb began when the silence had gone on long enough. "I assume by the lack of brotherhood members hanging out here that Jim is going to be fine."
"Yeah…" The door to the room opening cut off anything else Dean was going to say.
Both boys turned their gazes to the door as a tired looking Mackland Ames entered. There was a steaming coffee in his hands and his clothes looked rumpled. It wasn't a sight that Caleb was accustomed to seeing.
"Dean, I …" Mackland stopped mid-speech and Caleb smirked at the surprised look on his fathers face. He lifted his hand and gave a little wave.
"Caleb, I was just attempting to call you." Mac strode further into the room.
Caleb gave a sidelong glance at Dean before looking back at his father. "I turned my phone off before coming up to Jim's room." Cell phones weren't allowed in hospital rooms. It was a well known fact. It was a particular rule he had been told off for on numerous occasions.
"How … how did you know to come here?"
"I decided I would leave a few days early. I called Deuce to let you guys know and it didn't take a genius to realise something was wrong."
"I see," Mackland answered, the hand not holding his coffee came to rest on his hips as he looked at Dean.
"I didn't think it would hurt since he was already on his way." Dean spoke up, sitting straighter.
"Of course, Dean," Mac agreed automatically. "That makes perfect sense."
Caleb stood up, his arms once again folded across his chest in a comfortable stance. "So what's the verdict, Doc?" If there were any doctor that Caleb trusted explicitly it was Mac and aside from a random comment about a cow and snow he didn't know all that much.
Mackland sighed tiredly, running a finger over his brow. The concern was evident in the way he carried himself. "In short? We're dealing with a case of pneumonia … a bad case of it. From what we can gather from the short moments he was awake Jim had been helping a neighbour with some livestock stuck in some fencing. I would imagine that working in the wet cold snow and overworking himself brought us to this point."
That? Caleb could believe. Between Jim's brotherhood responsibilities and his duties to his church and parishioners it wasn't an unlikely concept that Jim would have been more worried about the others in his care more than himself. It wasn't unlikely at all that he would have put his own needs aside, especially at this time of year.
"But he's going to be okay, right?" Caleb asked. That was all he needed to hear.
"I believe so … yes. With some forced rest he will make a full recovery."
"Well …" Dean began; an actual smile on his face. It was the first one Caleb had seen since entering the room. "I guess it's our turn to give Christmas to Jim this year instead." The boy looked up at Mackland as if something had suddenly occurred to him. "He will be home for Christmas wont he?"
Mac nodded without hesitation. "He'll spend the remainder of the week here … just to be sure, but yes I think it should be perfectly fine for Jim to come home."
Dean visibly relaxed and Caleb followed suit. Caleb knew that Dean would probably never admit it but he looked forward to Christmas. It wasn't because of the festive cheer and the presents but something much more meaningful. Christmas was one day when they all tried to be together … and not because of a hunt, not because of some disaster but just to have a meal, joke around and simply be together. One big fucked up dysfunctional family. None of them said it out loud but Caleb was positive they all felt the same way.
The thought of having Christmas at the farm without Jim there was just … wrong. With one quick glance in Dean's direction that acknowledgement was confirmed. If Jim Murphy hadn't been able to make it to Christmas then they would damn well bring Christmas to Jim Murphy instead.
"So what now? Having a medical degree makes you more qualified on how to cook a fucking turkey?"
"It obviously makes me more qualified than you. This is all wrong."
"And who's fault is that, oh great and wonderful Doctor Ames?"
"Well it certainly isn't mine."
"Well I hope you're happy. You've cooked a Christmas meal for the fucking dogs. I'm sure this will finally get Atticus off Junior's ass. You ready for some groupies, Mackland?"
"No you don't, Johnathan." Mac pointed a long finger at John from across the table that held their attempt at a Christmas turkey dinner. "You don't pin this on me. It's not my fault that you obviously can't read the instructions properly. I should have handled this myself."
"I did read the instructions properly. You wrote them down wrong!" John slapped a piece of paper down next to the burnt food.
"Maybe they should have just stuck to steaks." Caleb commented quietly from his seat next to Dean on the couch.
Sam had come in from outside, having fed the horses for Pastor Jim, to find Dean and Caleb sitting on the couch side by side watching an listening to the commotion that was going on in Pastor Jim's kitchen. To Sam it sounded like World War III had broken out in the kitchen … over turkey.
Sam had sat down in an armchair, giving him a direct line of sight into the kitchen and watched in astonishment as tea towels were slapped around and the Knight and Scholar moved around the kitchen arguing and working at the same time. It was like watching an orchestrated play.
It wasn't unusual for the two men to argue at times but Sam couldn't for the life of him remember it ever being over cooking.
"Whose idea was it for them to take over the cooking while Jim is laid up anyway?" Dean asked, moving closer to Caleb to try and see into the kitchen as a pan clattered to the ground.
Caleb seemed thoughtful before responding, as if trying to remember how they had all been resorted to this. "If I remember correctly, Dad offered while standing next to Johnny and Jim thanked them both."
Sam pried his gaze away from the kitchen and turned to his brother and Caleb. "So Jim assumed and they went along with it?"
"That about sums it up."
"You know it's not as if either of them doesn't know how to cook." It was true. Dean did a lot of the cooking when they were away from the farm but Dad did too and it wasn't half bad. Sometimes the places they stayed even had an oven on occasion and Dad had cooked a roast … he was sure of it.
"Apparently they can lead the Triad but cooking together is too much to ask for," Caleb quipped, settling back into the cushions.
"You think there's a Pizza place around here that delivers on Christmas?" Dean asked. He slapped Caleb on the stomach. "Maybe a turkey one." He raised both brows in question and Calen nodded seriously.
"You can't have Pizza for Christmas." Sam rolled his eyes.
"Samuel is right."
All three of them turned around to look at the stairs and a mixture of shock and concern filled their expressions. Jim had gotten out of the hospital a few days early on the provision that he stay in bed as much as possible. Sam was beginning to think that Mac should have taken out that 'as much as possible' part. Who knew that Jim was not any better than Dean or Caleb … and even Dad when he was sick? They had started taking turns sitting up in his room with him to keep him company … and in bed.
"What on earth is going on in my kitchen?" Jim's blue gaze travelled in the direction of the kitchen.
"That would be Batman and Robin attempting to cook together," Caleb responded as he jumped to his feet and stalking over to the pastor. "Jim, you should be in bed."
"Nonsense," Jim answered but allowed Caleb to take his arm and lead him to the couch where Dean moved to make room. "I've been in that room for days and even I have my limits." He gave them a wry smile.
"You always tell me that sick people belong in bed," Dean countered, picking up a cushion from the end of the couch and putting it behind Jim's back.
"And that, my boy, is very true but I also allow you to the couch don't I?"
"Yeah," Dean agreed begrudgingly. Seeing Jim so sick had scared him … scared them all.
"How are you feeling Pastor Jim?" Sam asked, ignoring the continuous stream of bickering coming from the kitchen.
"I'm feeling much better." Jim smiled and then looked at both Dean and Caleb. "I promise you."
"Will you also promise us to never do that again?" Dean asked, his gaze on Jim unwavering, lifting his foot to put it on the table but then thinking better of it.
"You can help God's creatures any time you want but you gotta remember to look after yourself too." Caleb backed up Dean's request.
"We need you, Pastor Jim." Sam finished for them sincerely.
Jim's eyes misted over and he was quiet for a moment before he placed a hand on Dean's shoulder and a hand on Caleb's and kept them there as he pinned his watery gaze on Sam. "Boys, I'm … I'm sorry I scared you. I didn't mean to. But I promise you, right now, that I will take better care of myself. I'm not going anywhere."
All three of them nodded silently and Jim gave both Dean and Caleb's shoulders a squeeze. "Besides," Jim added. "It would be wrong of me to leave you alone to this each Christmas." He indicated to the kitchen.
"Good, because I'm worried it could be a danger to our health."
Dean snorted and then sat back against the corner of the couch. "They'll probably make us eat whatever they have ruined in there out of sheer stubbornness."
"Be thankful it's not tuna," Caleb reminded them and shuddered.
"Boys…" Jim started but stopped as the living room was invaded by the two apron wearing hunters, still growling at each other. Both men stopped short when they saw who sitting there.
"You shouldn't be…"
Jim held up his hands. "I'm not an invalid. I can sit in my own living room and talk with my boys."
"The real question is whether we going to be having peanut butter sandwiches for Christmas dinner?"
"Can it, Reaves."
"John and I have it all under control." Mackland supplied, wiping his hands on the tea towel he held.
"Yeah, we can see that," Dean responded and then looked away when John glared at him.
"I'm sure whatever your fathers have come up with will be perfect," Jim said but even the look on his face was skeptical.
The sound of a car pulling to a stop outside had everyone looking to the front door. John - always on alert - headed to the window and moved the curtain aside to see who was coming.
"It's Singer … Missouri in tow." John closed the curtains and headed for the door and wrenched it open. Mackland followed him out.
Caleb and Dean shared a look between each and stood in unison. "You sure you're okay, Jim?" Dean asked before he moved to follow his friend.
"I'm fine. Go."
Sam laughed as the two hunters followed their fathers out the door to greet the others. Sam opted to stay with Jim. He studied the guardian for a few quiet moments and was relieved to see that he really did look better. That was the biggest thing that Sam was thankful for this Christmas. That was the only present he needed.
"I wonder why Missouri came with Bobby," he wondered out loud.
"Ah, that would be my doing." Jim had a mischievous glint in his eye.
"What do you mean?"
"I know your father and Mackland, Sam and I love them dearly but I thought a backup plan should be put in place … just in case." Jim winked at him.
A wide smile formed on Sam's face. "They brought food."
Sam counted himself lucky, this year his Christmas wish had come true. Jim was going to be fine and with that and Missouri's food they could all enjoy Christmas dinner for another year.
A/N-2: I really do hope that anyone who read this liked it and if you did please feel free to let me know. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and an amazing New Year!!! Happy Holidays!!