The Great Noodle Incident
Disclaimer: I own neither "Supernatural" or "Calvin and Hobbes."
Beta'd: By Phx and Muffy – both of whom provided invaluable feedback and suggestions. Thank you ladies!
Time Line: February of 1989. Dean is 10, Sam is 5.
Warning: Family fluff ahead.
Title borrowed with alacrity!
"Are monsters real?"
"What? You're crazy."
"Monsters are real. Dad fights them. He's fighting them right now."
"But Dad said the monsters under my bed weren't real."
"That's because he'd already checked under there, but yeah, they're real. Almost everything's real."
~Sam and Dean Winchester, 'A Very Supernatural Christmas'
……………………Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons….………………
"My snowmen are getting your snowmen!" Sammy shouted, "They're winning!"
"Not even in your dreams, Sammy-boy!" Dean's voice rang back.
Snowballs hit the younger boy's snowmen at high velocity, knocking the head off one, completely pulverizing another. "Now mine are launching a full scale attack. Yours are running scared."
Sammy stomped on several of his brother's smaller snowmen. "Crazy monster snow goons attack!"
"Dude." It was the only warning Sammy received before Dean tackled him, shoving them both to the ground. He wriggled beneath the older boy, trying to escape.
"Get off me, Dean!" Sammy tried to sound angry, but he couldn't stop laughing. That was until his brother shoved snow down his collar. "Stop, please!"
"Not on your life, little brother." Dean pushed more snow down Sammy's jacket before standing up. The younger boy's face puckered moments before a resounding sneeze echoed off the barren landscape. "That's it, kiddo, time to go in."
"Aw, Dean, just a few more minutes," Sammy pleaded, "please?"
The older boy shook his head no, then narrowed his eyes in thought. "How about a deal?"
"What?" Sammy bounced on his toes, happy to squeeze a little more play time out of his big brother.
"We could hang for awhile in the barn loft."
"Woo hoo!" The mop-haired boy did a little victory dance, but he didn't miss Dean's eye roll. "Race ya!" He took off at a sprint, hoping to beat the taller boy to the barn door. Sammy heard the loud crunching of snow as his brother ran after him. There was a red and blue blur as Dean ran past him moments before his hands hit the heavy wooden door.
Dean twisted to toss the younger boy a grin. "You gotta be faster than that if you want to beat me, Sammy."
"One of these days I'll be big like you and then I'll be faster," Sammy said, pushing his hat up on his forehead and tucking his bangs under it.
"You wish," Dean said, pushing the door open. The air inside the dim interior was decidedly warmer than outside, the price for admission being the distinctive scent of animal waste, hay, and stale dust. "Hand me your mittens, Sammy."
Sammy peeled off damp mittens, stuffing them into his hat. "Here." Flashing his brother a dimpled smile, he deftly climbed the wooden ladder into the loft. Dean followed closely behind and soon they were settled on bales of hay. He sat on one bale, slowly pulling out straws and bending them into different shapes while Dean lay on his back on another, his eyes closed. "Hey, Dean?"
"Yeah?" The older boy didn't bother opening his eyes.
"What's snow made out of?"
Sammy frowned. It was cold, but frozen water was ice, wasn't it? "Just water?"
Dean opened his eyes. Rolling to his side, he propped his head on his bent arm. "Water and dirt specks I think."
The five-year-old shook his head. "But they're white."
"Uh, that's 'cause the water cleans the dirt." Dean's green eyes glinted at him in the dim lighting of the loft. "Like when you take a bath."
Sammy thought about it for a bit, then nodded. "That makes sense."
"Of course it does." Dean rolled onto his back, closing his eyes again.
A dead fly on the dusty floor caught Sammy's attention and he tried spearing it with a piece of straw. After several attempts, he finally succeeded. "Hey, Dean?"
"Yeah?" Dean cracked one eye open.
"Do bugs fly south for the winter like birds?" Sammy twisted a strand of hay around his finger until the tip turned red and he unwound it.
"No, they just die."
"But Pastor Jim said all those monarchs we saw in the fall were my grain an' stories." He tied the straw he was holding into a knot.
"Migratory," Dean corrected sitting up, "and sure, girly insects like butterflies might fly south for the winter. I thought you were talking about regular bugs." A low rumble sounded over the crest of the hill, interrupting Sammy's next question. "You hear something?"
Sammy stood, brushing hay off his clothes. He tilted his head to one side listening. "Dad's here." A wide grin broke his face.
The brothers hurried out of the loft and out the barn door, running for the house, but even so, the sleek black car edged past them in the final stretch. Their dad was getting his duffel out of the trunk when they caught up to him. "Daddy, you're home!"
"Hey, kiddo," John greeted his youngest, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. Sammy returned the embrace, not pulling out when one of his father's arms pulled Dean into their hug. Instead, the boy placed his arm around his brother's middle and squeezed him tight. "Let's go inside where it's warm."
"Okay," the boys replied in unison.
Soon all three were bundled off into Jim's bright kitchen, coats, boots, and mittens discarded along the way. Sammy perched on his father's lap sipping hot chocolate while Dean made peanut butter crackers.
"Everything turn out for you, John?" Pastor Jim asked, taking a seat at the table. He held out a cup of coffee for John.
"Yeah." John twisted in the seat. "Be alright with you if we bunk here one more night, Jim? I could really use a shower and a good night's sleep before trying to drive anywhere."
"Of course, you're always welcome," the minister said. "You don't even have to ask."
Sammy felt the rumble of his dad's laugh through his back which was pressed up to his father's chest. "You should be more careful about offering up things like that," John said. "You just might live to regret that one."
"I highly doubt it," Jim said, taking a sip of coffee.
Dean set the peanut butter crackers down on the table and the brothers started munching. Sammy smacked his lips in appreciation. Pastor Jim always had good peanut butter and the best jam. The younger boy had been in the storm cellar with Pastor Jim one day and he had seen rows and rows of food in jars. The minister had told him it was because many of the ladies at the church liked to share their canned food with him. "This is good," Sammy said around a mouthful of crackers. "What kind of jam is it?"
"Plum," Dean answered, licking his lips. "Your lips are purple."
"Yours, too," Sammy said with a giggle. He washed down the sticky peanut butter with the last of his hot chocolate. "I'm sticky."
"That's my cue," his dad said, sliding the five-year-old off his lap. "Dean, take your brother upstairs and help him wash up."
"I can do it," Sammy insisted. He didn't need help with everything anymore. He was a big kid now.
Their dad leveled a stare at both boys. "Go, Dean. Sammy, listen to your brother."
"Yes, sir," came the duel responses. Sammy ran for the stairs, his brother following close behind.
After dinner was over, Dean and his dad searched the room where the monster had attacked while Sammy and Jim cleaned the kitchen and played checkers. "I think it hid under the bed," Dean said, pointing to the scratches on the wooden floor. "It was purple and scaly, with red eyes and bad breath."
"Did you turn on the light?" John asked, getting on his hands and knees by the bed to peer under it.
"Yes, sir," Dean replied. "It didn't seem to like the light at all."
"No, I doubt it did," his dad said, taking out a flashlight. "Come over here, son, I have something I want to show you." Dean got on his hands and knees next to his father. "You see that shiny spot?"
Dean narrowed his eyes, examining the silvery shimmer under the bed. "Yeah, what is it?"
"Scales stuck in dried drool," John said, shining the light into a dark corner, "and that large dust bunny is actually a hair ball. You can see the purple threads of hair if you look closely."
"Dad, what was it?" Dean asked, sitting back on his heels.
"A bug-a-boo," his dad replied, moving to sit on the bed. "They're a monster that hides under beds or closets and attacks children. The light hurts them and they're relatively easy to kill. Anything that kills an animal will kill a bug-a-boo."
"So, there really are monsters under the bed?" Dean asked, his eyes wide. "I thought they were just stories."
"A lot of things that are myth or stories were told and repeated because they held some grain of truth," John said. "You'd be surprised what's real."
Dean trembled under his skin. "How can we ever know we're safe, Dad? What good's all that salt if things like that can just show up under your bed?"
His dad rubbed a hand over Dean's head, then pulled him into a one-armed hug. "You can count on me, Tiger. I'll keep you and your brother safe and I'll teach you everything I know."
Dean leaned into his father's embrace. "Promise?"
"I promise," John said. "Now, let's get your brother up here and go to bed. We've got a long day ahead of us tomorrow."
"I'll get him, Dad," Dean offered. He vaulted off the bed, running out the door, and pounding down the stairs. He found his brother still playing with the minister. "Dad said it's time for bed."
Sammy looked up, his hand hovering over one of his checker pieces. "Right now?"
"Okay," Sammy sighed. He hurriedly put the checkers back into the box and shoved the game onto the shelf. "Good night, Pastor Jim."
"Good night, boys," Jim said, waving a hand after the boys.
Dean raced back up the stairs; his little brother's stocking feet thudding on the wood behind him. Memories of the night before threatened to resurface, but Dean stuffed them down, confident in his father's ability to keep them safe. One day, he'd be a hunter like his dad and then he'd be able to keep Sammy safe all by himself, but it was comforting to know he didn't have to. Dad was there for them.
"Brush your teeth and then into bed, boys," their dad said. "We've got a lot of traveling ahead of us tomorrow and I don't want any arguing in the car this time."
"Dad, we weren't fighting," Sammy said in the beginnings of a protest before Dean cupped his hand over his brother's mouth and steered him back out the door.
"Yes, sir," Dean said, pushing the small resistant form in front of him harder. "Sammy, move!" he whispered harshly through gritted teeth. The mop-haired boy did move, but it came with an indignant grumbling as he marched down the hall. Dean caught three or four of the faint words and he was sure Sammy owed him one. Dad didn't care about the finer points of Sammy's logic, he wanted peace and quiet in the car.
By the time Dean made it to the bathroom, Sam was using his frustrated energy to work up a foamy toothpaste grimace as he concentrated on his front teeth. "Deemf," Sammy said, spraying white, minty bubbles into the air. He spit into the sink. "Why'd you push me?"
"Because, little brother," Dean explained, "Dad wasn't upset we fought in the car, but he would have been if you stood there arguing with him about it."
"I wasn't arguing, Dean," Sammy said. "I was correcting him. We weren't fighting, we were playing army commando."
"It's kind of the same thing," Dean said, shouldering his brother to the side to gain access to the sink.
Sammy's brow wrinkled and he placed his hands on his hips. "I don't see how."
"Just trust me, okay?" Dean asked around his toothbrush.
At those words a wide smile and dimples appeared. "Why didn't you just say so in the first place?" The conversation was apparently over as Sammy pinched him in the side and took off out the door.
"Hey!" Dean rinsed his brush and ran after his brother. He nearly caught up to Sammy, but the younger boy scrambled to hide behind their dad.
"Save me!" Sammy giggled, holding tight to the back of their father's legs.
"No fair hiding behind, Dad," Dean said, making a quick grab for his brother. Sammy twisted away, but it was their dad who saved him, hoisting the five-year-old into his arms.
"I gotcha," John said, hugging Sammy tight. He pulled Dean into a one-armed embrace. "I got both of you." Dean tossed his dad a grin when John released him. He waited until Sammy crawled into bed to join him under the covers.
"Dad, are there monsters under the bed?" Sammy asked, as their dad tucked them in.
"Sammy, there're no monsters under your bed." Dean made eye contact with his dad and frowned slightly. It was one thing to protect his brother from the truth; it was another to almost lie to him.
"I promise," John said, ruffling Sammy's hair.
Sammy looked over at Dean, his eyebrows pulled in question. "Dad and I checked, Sammy, no monsters." He couldn't lie, but he could be Obi-wan Kenobi for his little brother.
"That's good," Sammy sighed, snuggling deeper into the blankets.
"Lights out, boys," John said, flipping the switch. "Good night."
"Good night, Dad."
Dean was relieved when his dad didn't go downstairs to talk with Pastor Jim as usual, but instead lay down on the opposite bed. He sighed, allowing his body to relax into the mattress. "Hey, Dean," Sammy whispered quietly.
"I feel sorry for Calvin."
Dean groaned softly. Sammy was like a dog with a bone when he became fixated on an idea. He flipped onto his side to face his brother. "Why?"
"Because he's not lucky like me. All he has is an imaginary tiger," Sammy whispered, leaning his forehead on Dean's. "I gotta big brother."
Dean rolled his eyes, but didn't protest when his brother shoved cold feet under his legs. He punched Sammy lightly on the shoulder. "You're not so bad yourself," he said, "you know, now that you're not drooling and blowing snot bubbles anymore."
"Dean!" Sammy protested in a stage whisper.
"I'm just sayin' when you were younger I practically needed a raincoat to hang out with you."
The dark room instantly fell silent. Sammy twisted his fingers in the hem of Dean's t-shirt, closing his eyes. It wasn't long before the even rhythm of the younger boy's breathing told Dean his brother had fallen asleep. "Good night, Sammy," he whispered into chestnut strands and within minutes, Dean joined him.
AN: This story wraps up the second of the three-pronged writing challenges I created for myself this summer.
One, Forgiveness and Rebuilding: Book of Sins, Tomatoes and Baby Birds, Greatest Strength
Two, Family: Is There in Truth no Beauty? and The Great Noodle Incident
Three, Everyday Heroes: Geek Squad and Knight in Shining Armor
To those of you who humored me this summer (by reading) thank you! Prongs one and two are complete. :)
Unfortunately, with the writing obligations I currently have, and the busy season quickly approaching at work, the two additional 'everyday hero' fics that are half-finished will have to wait until spring. Oops.