The Great Noodle Incident
Disclaimer: I own neither "Supernatural" or "Calvin and Hobbes." Both are simply the best of their kind.
Beta'd: With a big thank you to Phx and Muffy!
Thanks extra to Phx for making me sit on this story while it percolated a bit.
I played after they beta'd so as usual, all mistakes are mine!
Time Line: February 1989. Dean is 10, Sammy is 5.
AN: This fic of unadulterated brotherly schmoop was inspired, in part, by two different fics (unbeknownst to the authors). "A Day in the Sun" by geminigrl11 and "Wicky Wacky Woo" by Scullspeare, both were wonderful examples of what I've been missing – the boys being brothers.
In my review to Scullspeare I said something about curling sounding like Calvinball. When she replied she said Dean would have been awesome at Calvinball. So, girl – if you are reading this…I'm leaving that story to you (hint-hint)!
The snow forts had actually been Sammy's idea. He'd been practicing his reading by flipping through a pile of comic strips stacked by Pastor Jim's fireplace. 'Calvin and Hobbes' caught his attention and held his fancy, until Sammy was fixated on the idea of snow forts and snowball fights with Dean. That's how Dean found himself outside making ready for snow war after Sunday services.
Dean had acquiesced with just enough cajoling on his little brother's part to make Sammy think he was doing him a favor. It never hurt to let the kid think he owed his big brother one. Now, two hours later their pants were soaked, mittens too, but the snow forts were nearing completion. The younger boy was putting finishing touches on his barricade including buttresses and a lookout window. Dean's had been built for over thirty minutes, giving him plenty of time to work on a few snowmen that would have made the fictional six-year-old inspiration of their outing proud.
"You about done there, kiddo?" Dean asked. He frowned, noticing Sammy had lost his hat. "Where's your hat?"
The younger boy wiped his face with the back of a damp mitten. "I used it to carry snowballs," Sammy replied, sniffling.
"You're supposed to use it to keep your brains in," Dean chastised him, jamming his hat over his brother's head. Bangs and red yarn covered Sammy's eyes and he pushed them both up onto his forehead.
"It's supposed to keep you warm," the younger boy corrected, his forehead scrunching as he frowned. "Brains don't just fall out."
"Yes, they do," Dean insisted. "Look at half the kids on the school bus. You can't tell me they have all their brains."
"Deeean," Sammy said, dragging his name out.
"Or that new lady in church today?"
"Pastor Jim said she had a lazy eye."
"Right," Dean shot back. "Whoever heard of an eye being lazy?"
Sammy rolled his eyes. "Maybe it's just tired," he suggested in an all-knowing tone.
"And you've heard Uncle Bobby ask Dad if he's lost his mind before," Dean reminded him. "Why do you think Bobby's always wearing one?" Hazel eyes opened wide and Dean grinned. He'd hit the mark. Sometimes it was just too easy. "So, keep the hat on, Sammy."
"Okay," Sammy replied sheepishly. He tugged the hat down firmly in the back and over his ears. He frowned, crossing his arms. "What about you?"
"Don't worry about me," Dean said with a grin. "I've got brains to spare."
Sammy's scrunched up in concentration, as if he wasn't sure whether to accept his brother's reassurance, but it quickly smoothed out to be replaced by a tentative smile. "Are you ready to fight?"
"I've been ready," Dean replied with a sigh of long-suffering. "You're the one that spent forever getting his fort done."
"It needed a lookout window," Sammy protested. "You're taller'n me."
"That's 'cause I'm older," Dean shot back. "It's a rule." Another eye roll from his younger brother, Dean was on fire. Sun glinted off the snow making for a bright afternoon, and he shaded his eyes with one hand. "On the count of three."
"Wait!" Sammy shouted, running for his fort.
"One!" Dean ran for his hastily created, but sturdy snow wall.
"Two!" Dean jumped over the barrier, sliding on his belly into the pit.
"Three!" Dean shouted, rolling onto his stomach and launching his first snowball.
He heard the wet thunk of snow hitting snow and his brother's squeal immediately following. Seconds later a snowball arced overhead, hitting the ground just past his toes. "Did I get ya?" Sammy called.
"You're gonna have to try harder than that, little man," Dean taunted, throwing another snowball.
"Oof," Sam expelled a rush of air when the snowball hit his back.
"You okay, little brother?"
A snowball answered, this one hitting him in the arm. "I gotcha!" Sam crowed.
"Don't get cocky!" Dean quoted. Laughter rippled across the snow from his brother's fortress. Snowballs flew hot and heavy for several exciting minutes. Dean took a particularly hard ice ball to the eye and Sammy one to his cheek, turning it a deeper shade of rosy red. The game ended when the younger boy's lookout window collapsed showering him in snow.
"Brrr," Sammy protested, shivering. He danced about, shaking out his jacket, trying to get the snow out from under his collar.
"Time to go in," Dean said, herding his brother with one arm looped around the smaller kid's shoulders.
The warm entryway into Pastor Jim's home welcomed them inside. Wet boots were lined up in the hall, coats properly hung, and Dean placed their mittens on the cranky radiator in the kitchen. Dean forced his shivering brother into the shower, going downstairs to heat milk for hot chocolate. Sammy bounded into the kitchen as the milk finished warming, pajamas stuck to wet skin, hair still dripping water. He slid through the kitchen in socked feet.
"Don't let Pastor Jim catch you doing that," Dean reminded him.
"I won't," Sammy said, sitting down to enjoy the mug of steaming cocoa on the table.
"You won't what?" a voice asked from the entry hall.
Sammy startled guiltily, his hand shook and hot chocolate spilled over the lip of the cup. "Uh…" He stopped, dropping his eyes to the table. "I'm sorry."
"That's good," Jim said with a hint of confusion in his voice. He turned to Dean, his gaze hardening a fraction. "You need to go outside and knock those snowmen down, Dean."
"Why?" Dean asked, trying and failing to keep a smirk off his face.
"Because as they melt you know what they're going to look like," Pastor Jim said reproachfully, crossing his arms.
"What're they gonna look like?" Sammy asked, wiping half of a chocolate mustache off his face.
Pastor Jim opened and closed his mouth several times as he started to answer, then apparently changed his mind. "It doesn't matter," he said finally, turning his gaze from Sammy back to Dean. "Now, Dean."
"Yes, sir," Dean replied. He waited until the minister nodded and walked out of the room before he chuckled. He slipped on his boots, coat, and still damp mittens, then headed outside.
"Dean, wait!" Sammy called, meeting him at the door.
"What?" He paused, the wet yarn on his mitten sticking to the cold metal handle of the screen door.
"You don't want to lose your brains," Sammy said, handing Dean his hat.
Dean smirked, pulling the red hat down tight. "Thanks, Sammy."
The younger boy nodded solemnly, the corners of his mouth pulling up into a tiny grin. "Hurry, Dean. Pastor Jim said we could help make supper."
"Oooh, wouldn't want to miss that," Dean said, with an eye roll.
"I know, so hurry." Sammy shooed him out the door, bouncing with barely contained energy.
Dean smiled, shaking his head. Sarcasm was completely lost on his literal brother. Snow crunched under his feet, squeaking with new crispness as the air quickly cooled. Shadows lengthened and the nearby knobby woods were dark and eerie. A chilling breeze whipped past, burning his cheeks. He zipped his coat all the way up and tucked his chin into the collar.
The three snowmen had hardened slightly, but a few well-placed kicks knocked them down flat. The wind whistled harder, urging Dean towards the farmhouse. He ran, the frigid air burning his lungs, until he stepped inside the two-story home. He kicked off his boots, hung his coat, and took his mittens into the kitchen to place on the radiator again.
He found Sammy standing on a chair by the stove talking as Pastor Jim stirred something in a saucepan. The air smelled of toasted bread and tomatoes. "Dean!" The chair wobbled when Sammy pivoted quickly to greet him. "We're making grilled cheese and tomato soup."
"Sounds good, squirt," Dean said. Pastor Jim turned to look at him. "Need help?" He nodded pointedly at his little brother.
"We've got it under control," Jim assured him. "Why don't you wash up?"
It didn't take him long to wash and change, but by the time he returned Sam was settled by the fireplace with soup and sandwiches. Jim sat in a large armchair, bowl of soup in one hand, book in the other. He looked up when Dean entered the room. "We decided to have a picnic by the fire."
Dean smiled. As much as he hated when his dad was away on a hunt, Jim or Bobby always made it easier. He didn't have to be hyper-vigilant at all times. It left him more time to just be Sammy's brother, to just be Dean. "Cool."
Supper was followed by checkers, and Dean was forced to admit Sammy beat him once fair and square. It seemed like only moments had passed when Pastor Jim announced it was bed time. After a flurry of teeth brushing and Sammy's whispered prayers, the boys climbed into bed.
"Good night, boys," Jim said, closing the door all but a crack.
"Good night!" they chorused together.
Dean waited, listening as Jim's footfalls disappeared down the stairs. He flipped onto his side, grinning at his brother. "Dad should be home tomorrow."
Twin dimples appeared when Sammy grinned back. "Good. I miss, Daddy." He turned to lie on his side, his head propped up on his arm. The meager light from the bedside table bathed one side of the younger boy's face in a warm, yellow glow, the other remained darkened by shadow. "Dean?"
"Why does Hobbes look like a real tiger when it's just Hobbes and Calvin, but when anyone else is around he looks like a toy stuffed animal?" Sam asked, his tone and expression serious.
"I dunno," Dean said. He'd never really thought about it before, chalking it up to a gimmick the cartoonist used to give Calvin someone to talk to about kid stuff. "I guess because he's only real to Calvin. He needs a friend to talk to and so Hobbes is real to him."
Sammy narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips, a sure sign that he was thinking hard about Dean's words. "But, he isn't real when other people are around."
"He still is to Calvin," Dean said. "Now, go to sleep."
The younger boy frowned, his forehead wrinkling and eyebrows pulling in exaggerated consternation. "Because he loves Hobbes?"
"Yeah," Dean said, resisting a sigh. Once Sammy latched onto an idea it was next to impossible to get him to change tracks. "Go to sleep."
Sammy sighed, wriggling down into the bed until only a mop of brown, two hazel eyes, and a sloping nose were visible above the covers. "I think it's because he doesn't have a brother," Sam said, his words muffled by the blankets.
"Go to sleep," Dean said, firmly. He turned off the light and hunkered down into the covers. "Love you too, Sammy," he whispered quietly under his breath. The smile lingered on his face even as he closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.
It was the coughing that woke him.
Sammy had been sniffling earlier, so it was really no surprise to Dean when his brother started coughing with just a hint of a finishing wheeze. He tried to ignore it at first, hoping that Sammy would settle and breathe easier. When it didn't happen, Dean turned on his side facing the younger boy's bed.
The half moon outside was just enough light through the paned windows and sheer curtains to catch sight of a shadowy form kneeling on the other bed. Dean quickly sat up, his brother's name on his lips. "Sammy!"
A head whipped in Dean's direction and two piercing, red eyes glinted angrily at him from the darkness.
AN: On a completely sappy, final, parting thought: Never underestimate the influence you have over the lives of the people you love. Get away from the computer, from your own writing or reading, from the t.v. or the best movies of the year (summer movies rock!) and spend time with those close to you, be it family or friends that are family. You never know when you could be just the thing to make someone's day a little better! So, what are you still doing sitting here? Go. Go!