Of Black Dogs and ASL

Summary: A miscommunication results in a hurt 10-year-old Dean and a heart-to-heart between Sam and John.

Author's Note: I wrote this awhile ago in answer to a request from laura's-eyes for a deaf!Dean Wee!chester fic. Maz-kazama poked and prodded, then poked and prodded, then poked and prodded some more to get me to post this, so here it is. :)

Disclaimer: None of it's mine. I'm just playing in the sandbox created by Kripke and the CW!

John knew when Dean moved right instead of left that there was no way he could prevent what was about to happen.

Dean obviously didn't expect to slam into the black dog and the collision knocked him back a few steps. The dog wasn't fazed, though, and leapt on the ten-year-old. Dean fell backwards and the dog stayed with him, the two of them falling backwards. They hit the floor hard and the ancient carpet did little to soften the landing.

Dean kicked frantically at the creature, but there was little he could do. The massive dog outweighed Dean by at least twenty-five pounds.

The whole episode only lasted seconds, but it was enough time for the dog to sink its teeth into Dean's shoulder before John had a clear shot. He pulled the trigger on his Glock three times in rapid succession and the dog howled in pain, the wounds burning orange from the silver. It abandoned Dean and managed two steps before it collapsed in a heap, chest heaving as it struggled to breathe.

John quickly stepped over and emptied the pistol into the beast. Satisfied that it was dead, he dropped to his knees beside his eldest.

"Sammy, get me the first aid kit," John called over his shoulder, pressing a hand lightly to Dean's chest to keep him down when he tried to sit up. "Take it easy, kiddo." He heard the bathroom door unlock behind him and a moment later, the six-year-old was at his side, kit in hand.

Dean stared intently at his brother while John gave his shoulder a cursory exam. The boy's good arm came up and he signed something quickly at Sam that John didn't understand. Sam nodded and signed something back – John thought it was 'I'm okay'.

He must have been right because Dean visibly relaxed and let out a breath.

John reached out a hand and tapped his son's cheek softly, refocusing Dean's attention from his brother.

"I'm gonna move you to the bed, okay?" he said. Dean nodded and John was grateful yet again that his boy could read lips. He'd only had time to learn the basics of sign language when Dean had gone deaf, so more often than not, Sam played interpreter. Dean could speak, but he rarely chose to actually do it.

John carefully lifted his son and soon had him laid out in bed.

Sam crawled up onto the bed beside his big brother and settled in next to him, grabbing Dean's hand with his smaller, sweaty one. John saw Dean attempt to tug his hand away, but Sammy held fast. John grinned to himself; Dean tried to be stoic and act tough, but his little brother always got his way when it came to everything that Dean made fun of as "wussy" or "girly".

John dropped the now cut up t-shirt his son had been wearing in the trashcan by the bed and rummaged through the large kit. He pulled out a bottle of pain pills and shook a couple out, handing them to Dean with one hand and grabbing the water bottle off the nightstand with the other. Dean swallowed them and as John waited for them to take effect, he washed the blood from Dean's shoulder and chest.

The pills kicked in quickly and Dean's eyes started to droop. John nudged his son's leg to get his attention.

"I've got to rinse the bite out with holy water, kiddo," he said, gripping the flask in his hand. "It's gonna hurt," he added apologetically. He hated causing his son any pain.

Dean just nodded, so John leaned forward and poured the water liberally over the front of his shoulder. He winced when Dean yelled in pain, arching up off the bed. Sam still held his brother's hand, but now he was also rubbing Dean's forearm.

"It's okay, Dean," Sammy said solemnly, even though the older boy couldn't hear him. John hated that his six-year-old was so used to violence already; any other child would be a wreck right now.

John repeated the process on the back of Dean's shoulder and then quickly applied antibiotic ointment to the punctures and bandaged them before he laid his son back down against the pillows. By the time, he'd finished treated the wounds on the front, Dean was half-asleep, and when John finished packing the supplies back into the first aid kit, his eldest was out.

Sam finally spoke.

"Is Dean gonna be okay?"

John stood up and wiped his hands on a towel.

"Yeah. He's gonna be fine, Short Stack," he replied.

Sam was silent for a few more moments and then asked another question.

"Why did you tell Dean to go toward the dog?"

John's brow narrowed in confusion.

"What? I told him to go the other direction, Sam. You know I wouldn't hurt your brother."

"No, you didn't. You told him to go right. He told me. He said you signed it."

"I didn't -."

And then it hit him. He'd been gesturing wildly for Dean to get out of the way, but Dean's attention was on the dog. He'd looked over at him and then darted right – right into the dog. John had inadvertently given his son directions that could have gotten him killed.

John felt like vomiting.

"I didn't mean to, Sammy, I swear. I was scared and I was just waving my arms for him to move; I didn't know I signed anything." John was well aware that he sounded like he was begging his first-grader for forgiveness, but he didn't care.

"You hate Dean, don't you?" Sam continued, his voice wavering and his eyes filling with tears.

"No! I love Dean, just like I love you, kiddo," John reassured him, reaching over Dean and picking his youngest up.

"No, you don't," Sam sobbed. "You don't wanna learn to sign so you can talk to him! He told me!"

John hugged Sam tighter, his gut clenching. Dean thought he hated him?

"I don't hate him – I just never had time to learn to sign," John said lamely. The words tasted bitter on his tongue. A decent father would have learned to fully communicate with his deaf son as soon as he learned of the diagnosis. John couldn't even sign his way through the alphabet.

"But I learned," Sam said into John's shoulder, tears and snot wetting John's shirt. "Why can't you?"

And John had no answer for him. There was no decent reason.

"You're right, Sam. I'm gonna learn, I promise."

"But you hate Dean!"

"I don't hate Dean! I love you both very much. You're all I have, kiddo. I'm going to make this up to him. I'm going to make it up to both of you, okay? This won't happen again," John said, trying to soothe the six-year-old.

Sam pulled back from his shoulder and looked him in the eyes, swiping his arm under his nose. John winced and reached for a tissue, wiping Sam's arm off and then his nose.

"Remember when Dean showed you how to use a Kleenex?" he gently reminded his son.

"Yeah. But I don't need one cuz I got my arm," Sam said absently before returning to the original subject. "When are you going to learn? Now?"

His big brown eyes were so hopeful that John hated to tell him that he couldn't do it now.

"Not tonight, okay? Tomorrow maybe."

Sam's eyes started welling up again and he sniffed loudly.

"But why not? You're not busy now!" he wailed.

"It's your bedtime, kiddo. I'll have Dean start teaching me when he's better, okay?" John promised, rubbing a hand up and down Sam's skinny back.

"No, you won't! You hate Dean!" he insisted.

John sighed and situated himself next to Dean on the bed, keeping his youngest on his lap. He stretched his legs out in front of him and leaned back against the headboard, shifting Sam as he moved so that they were both comfortable.

"Okay, Sammy," he said. "Show me."

~The End~