Title: Getting Home
Characters: John, Sam, Dean
Word Count: 1,311
Disclaimer: None of the Winchesters belong to me, alas.
Summary: John and Sam take care of Dean in their own ways.
John sighed with relief when he saw Sammy come trundling down the hallway, backpack square on both shoulders. He didn't like leaving Dean alone in the car, but the doors were locked and standing by the windows in the school lobby he could keep an eye out for any trouble. Dean had seemed so comfortable against John's side that he hated to disturb him, but with Dean so adamant about bringing Sam home with them there was no option but to go in and get the boy.
There weren't many times John considered junking up the Impala's interior with one of those car phone set-ups, but he had to admit that there were times it would be convenient.
"We moving away?" Sam asked as soon as he was standing next to John.
"No dude, just making it a short day today." John ushered Sam toward the door.
"But we were studying Native Americans, and I didn't get to finish coloring my page."
"Well, I'm sure your teacher will let you finish drawing Indians tomorrow."
"Native Americans, Dad," Sam complained, and John just shook his head.
A few feet away from the car, he stopped and crouched down in front of Sam. "Sammy, I need you to be quiet when you get in the car. Dean's not feeling well and he's taking a little nap, so try not to wake him up, okay?"
Sam's eyes went wide and he craned his neck to look over John's shoulder, as though he could maybe see through the steel doors to his brother inside lying on the seat. "Did he throw up?"
"No, he's just real worn out, so are you with me on keeping it zipped on the way home?"
Sam nodded emphatically but silently, and John unlocked the back door so Sam could scramble in across the seat. Dean was just where John had left him--curled on his side over two-thirds of the front bench seat, John's leather jacket draped over him. John slid inside until his hip just touched the top of Dean's head and started the car.
He didn't manage to drive more than two feet before Sam was climbing half-way over the seat, dangling himself over to get a closer look at Dean. "Dean was crying!" Sam stage-whispered the words, sounding aghast at the concept.
"Shhh." John held a finger to his lips. " Butt. Seat. Seatbelt," he hissed. "Now."
Sam slithered back over the seat, reluctance clear in his pouting face, and did what he was told. John pulled off again, driving as smoothly as the road allowed. He realized, as he pulled up to the drive-through at McDonalds, that he wasn't going to be able to help making a little bit of noise. Not willing to leave the boys alone in the car again, he shrugged and placed the order--Big Mac, three regular cheeseburgers, and a couple medium fries. At the last moment, he added on a strawberry shake. If nothing else could tempt Dean, that sure as hell would.
"Apple pie," Sam whispered from the back seat.
"Excuse me?" John asked.
"Dean wants an apple pie."
Joh sighed and turned back to the speaker. "And an apple pie."
Dean didn't stir, and by the time John pulled the car into the lot by their building he was still fast asleep. John picked up the bag of food and turned to face Sam. "Hey bud, can you do me a favor? You want to carry in the food?"
Sam nodded and got his backpack situated on his back again before climbing out of the car. He took the big paper bag from John's hand and then reached back in with his free hand. "I can take the milkshake, too."
"It's for Dean, okay? Don't drink it." John wished he'd ordered two, but they really did have plenty of milk in the fridge.
"Can I have a sip?"
"A real sip, not a gulp sip."
"Okay." Sam nodded, his face solemn, and accepted the cup before turning around and pushing the door closed with his backpack.
"Dean." John shook Dean's shoulder, but the boy just mumbled and turned his face further into the seat's upholstery. "Okay, kiddo." John got out and circled around to the passenger side. He reached inside and got his arms around Dean, ignoring his back's complaints about the movement and angle. There'd be a time when he couldn't carry his kids, but that time sure as hell hadn't come yet. He stood up and adjusted Dean against his shoulder to get a better grip and then kicked the door shut.
Sam walked up the sidewalk in front of them, bag of food bumping against his leg every time he turned his head around to stare.
Inside the apartment, John hesitated. It was clear that all Dean wanted to do was sleep, but John worried that Dean would wake up feeling even worse if they didn't get some food in him. He heard Dean's belly growl, reacting to the smell of fries even in his sleep, and that made up his mind. He set Dean down in the corner of the couch, and patted his check until he stirred.
"Sammy, you want to hand me that shake?"
The cup was cold in John's hand and somehow, miraculously most of the way full. "Dean, Deano, I need you to wake up for me."
Dean opened his eyes to exhausted slits. "Did you get Sammy yet?"
"Yep, we're home buddy."
Dean's eyes opened further. "Huh?" He looked around. "How did I get inside?"
"How do you think?"
"Daaaad," Dean groaned, his tone of agrieved complaint tapering off into a yawn.
"You hungry? I picked up up a shake from Mickey D's."
"And an apple pie!" Sam piped up from the table, where he sat working his way through an order of fries.
"And an apple pie, but you can save that for later if you want."
Dean nodded and stuck the straw in his mouth. John didn't know what to do, but when he tried to stand up and walk away from the couch Dean stopped drinking, so he stayed put. His hand found its way onto Dean's shoulder, and the curve of bone under flannel fit just right in John's palm.
Once the last of the shake disappeared into a gurgle of the straw against the bottom of the cup, Dean closed his eyes and lapsed back into sleep. John stood and picked him up again, walking toward the boys' bedroom. He heard Sam's hurried footsteps following behind.
"You can put Dean in my bed, Dad."
"Why? They look the same to me."
Sam shook his head. "I don't think Dean's bed is comfortable. He sits up all the time, even when it's all dark out."
"That's a generous offer, son." John was willing to bet that Dean's bed was plenty comfortable, but he turned and pulled back the covers on Sam's bed and set Dean down. Dean didn't wake as John tugged off his jeans and pulled on pajama bottoms, and John couldn't remember the last time he had dressed Dean. He let Dean's t-shirt and socks be and tucked him under the covers.
"Come on, Sam. Let's go watch some TV." John kept his voice low, and he felt like Dean's exhaustion had seeped into him. It was early, he would have still been at work, but the day felt way too damn long.
Sam took a step toward the door and then walked over to stand next to Dean. He bent his head close to Dean's ear, and John held his breath to hear what Sam would say. "Don't be sad, Dean." John felt his eyes sting, and the tableau in front of him blurred. "I won't eat your pie."
John hooked a hand around Sammy's shoulders and pulled him out of the room.