This story is written when i was in an emotional moment, therefore, er, prepare Kleenexes just in case?
Also, after so long of being MIA, it's good to be back! I'll try to be more consistent in writing. Hopefully. If anyone is interested to know that. Which you might not. LOL
Thanks to Schelz who looked through this story and catches my mistakes before i publish. I wrote some more after she looked through, so all remaining mistakes are mine.
This is an important decision. He needs complete silence to make a choice, and his brother is not helping matters. That little rugrat is currently making whirring noises and toddling all around the room, pretending to be an airplane and oblivious to his older brother' significant moment.
"Sammy, can you come here?" Dean finally has enough of the distraction and motions his brother over to him.
Sam stops meandering around the room and scampers over to the bed where Dean is using as a makeshift desk. He tries vainly to climb up the bed on his own, but after two failed efforts, Dean takes a hold of Sam's shirt and hauls him up to sit beside him.
"Do you think you can sit beside me and help me with something? There's a cookie in it for you," Dean knows that his brother loves the chocolate chip cookies that his father has just bought from the store. He also knows that he's not supposed to climb up to get the cookie container, but he thinks that since today is a special day, his father won't mind just this once. He did tell Dean that yesterday.
Sam scrunches up his face and props his chin on his left hand, thinking, and Dean smiles. He is trying to look like Dad, and right now the effect is adorable. Sam looks so much like his Dad, with his dark curly hair and the peek-a-boo dimples, whereas Dean takes after their Mum, blonde hair and big green eyes.
Thinking about their Mum, especially today of all days, makes something ache in Dean's chest, and his eyes suddenly fill up with tears. He shuts them tightly so that none of them can escape, and takes a deep breath.
"You sad, Dean? Want hug?" Dean opens his eyes when he feels his brother's chubby hands clasping his cheeks. His brother's own features are so close that Dean can see the flakes of gold speckled in his brother's hazel eyes, along with the worried look on his face.
"Want hug, Dean?" Sam repeats. Without waiting for an answer, Dean finds himself almost strangled by two little arms. He hugs Sam back, feeling much better than he was a moment ago. His brother has the ability to make everything feels all right with just a hug.
"Thanks, Sammy. So, can you help me?" Dean asks Sam as he releases himself from the surprisingly strong grip.
Sam smiles at the question, nodding his head and showing his dimples to its fullest glory. "Okay, Dean."
It's now Dean's turn to nod. He moves the pieces of paper that he has been studying for the past fifteen minutes and spreads them in front of Sam. There are five pieces of paper, each with a different design of a bag printed on it.
"So Sam, which one of these looks the nicest?" Dean asks his brother.
Sam studies the pictures carefully, as much as an almost two-year old toddler can be careful. He then picks out the most colourful bag, lifting the paper and handing it over to his older brother.
"This one, Dean." Sam smiles again, showing his teeth. He has his excited face on, and he's looking expectantly for Dean's reaction. His smile is contagious and Dean finds himself returning Sam's wide grin.
Dean takes the paper from Sam and studies the bag. It is black at the straps, with a picture of Smurfs in the front, only the Smurfs are in other colours instead of just blue. It looks girlie, but it is way better than the bag that he has right now. He glances over his bag at the foot of the bed. The bag is washed-out grey, and the left strap is hanging from the bag, almost torn. Dean is glad he is going to have a new bag soon, as he is almost sure that the bag will not survive long at school.
He pats Sam's mop of hair. "Thanks, Sammy."
Sam nods his head and says eagerly, "Cookie now, Dean?"
Dean jumps down from the bed, and Sam follows suit. Holding each other's hands, they make their way to the kitchenette. Dean pushes a chair to the counter and climbs on it, while Sam looks on at the side. Slowly, he stands up on the chair, opens the cupboard above the counter and extracts a container full of cookies that his father has just bought two days ago.
He glances down back to Sam and suddenly he thinks back to the last time he had been this far up from the ground. That wasn't a long time ago. He still has nightmares about it, but he usually wakes up just before anything really bad happens, and he has never woken up Dad before. Goosebumps appear all over his body at the memory and Dean shivers. Cautiously, he climbs down from the chair, the container gripped tightly in his embrace.
Sam squeals as soon as Dean's feet touch the floor, and claps his hands excitedly when Dean carefully screws the top of the container open. Dean takes out a cookie and hands it to Sam, and after a moment's hesitation, takes one for himself. After all, today is a special day.
John reaches the door of his Home of the Month, poorly illuminated by the sun giving out its last rays of light. He is weary down to his bone, and throughout the few hours that he spent at the garage, he could not shake a nagging feeling at the back of the head, like he has forgotten to do something today, or that he forgets what day it is. He also has a hangover from his unscheduled drinking binge last night, and it hasn't receded at all. That was the first time that he had gotten drunk at the house instead of a bar, and he has a horrible feeling that it wouldn't be the last.
When he opens the door he is immediately attacked by Sam, who has launched himself towards his father and is squeezing both his legs as hard as he can. John lets out a gruff laugh, and bends down on his knees to hug his youngest. Over the unruly brown hair, he can see Dean standing near the entrance of the kitchenette and holding both his and Sam's jackets.
"Daddy! Going out?" Sam shrieked in his ear.
John shakes his head and winces as the motion threatens to dislodge his brain from its usual position. "I just reach home, Sammy. Who says we're going out?"
John looks over to Dean he notices that Dean has put on his 'going-out' clothes, and he is wearing a hopeful look on his face. John both loves and hates that look, for it reminds him of Mary so much. He could never refuse Mary when she wore such a look. But Dean is not Mary, and he is tired.
"Sorry boys. We're not going out tonight."
Dean, surprisingly, speaks up. "But Dad, you said today is…"
It's then that John spots the container of cookies that's sitting on the counter at the kitchenette. He's pretty sure that he left it in the cupboard above the counter this morning. He spots the chair that is left leaning on the counter and it doesn't take a genius to figure out what they all have in common. Dean had climbed up the chair to retrieve the damn container.
John's mind flashes back to the hunt a week ago, when he was hunting a Black Dog. He had left Sam with Pastor Jim but Dean had clung to his legs as he was going out and John had been weak enough to allow Dean to follow him to the hunt, with a solemn promise that he would stay in the car the whole time. John had thought it was going to be an easy hunt since this was his second hunt of the creature.
Regrettably, Dean had gone out of the Impala to investigate when he heard John's cry as he was flung against the tree. He had caught the attention of the Black Dog when he called out for John, and had been trying to scramble up a tree branch to avoid getting mauled. He had nearly fallen back down because of the slippery, mossy trunk, and John had barely caught him in time to save his son from breaking his neck. A few seconds slower, and Dean would have either been bitten by the Dog or gotten some serious injury if he hit the uneven ground.
That almost failed hunt has been giving him nightmares the whole week, causing him to turn to alcohol to keep the terrifying images at bay. Dean, surprisingly, appears to have forgotten the incident quickly. As a chill runs down his spine at the memory of his oldest nearly dying right in front of him, his anger rises to the surface.
"Dean, did you climb up the chair?"
Dean flinches at the question, and his hopeful look changes to a scared one at the tone of John's voice. He snaps his mouth shut with an audible click.
"Dean, I need an answer." John was trying his best to keep his voice even.
In a small voice, Dean replies, "Yes, sir."
"And why did you do that when I told you not to?"
Dean doesn't reply. He casts his head down and examines his shoes.
Sam, who has been quiet throughout the exchange, pipes up. "Want cookie, Daddy?"
John doesn't respond to the question. Instead, he stands up and walks towards the couch in the living room, carrying Sam in his arms. Dean stays where he is, on the other end of the room. As he sits down, he lets out a big sigh, tries to smooth the crease between his eyebrows and reins in his temper. He isn't so successful for the last part. "Damnit, Dean. What if you had fallen down?"
There is still no answer.
"I gave you a direct order, and you choose to disobey me. I'm disappointed, Dean."
His oldest son decides to stay mute still, although his shoulders slumped down even further. John is suddenly almost overcome by the impulse to walk up to Dean and shake a reply out of him, something that he was tempted to do many a time when Dean decided to not talk during the months after Mary's death. He tightens his hold on his youngest son and addresses him again.
"Go upstairs, Dean. There'll be no dinner for you tonight. You can go to bed right now."
Dean's head whips up at that declaration, a shocked expression on his face. He clearly does not anticipate this, and, in a rare move, tries to defend himself. "But Dad, you said yesterday…"
John interrupts him. "I know what I said yesterday, Dean." In reality, he can barely remember what happened last night. He had put his children to bed, and had polished off an entire bottle of JD after that, turning to alcohol to numb his brains enough for him to fall asleep. He vaguely recalled Dean towards the end, and there had been an exchange of conversation, although he doesn't recall what it was all about. Dean must have led him to bed, for when he woke up this morning he was in bed with the blanket pulled over him.
"I also know you disobeyed a direct order," he continued. "And that means you must face the consequences. No dinner, go to bed, and you can forget whatever I've said."
Dean's face falls, and he cants his head down towards the floor. For a moment, John thinks that there's going to be waterworks. The nagging feeling returns with a vengeance, but John ruthlessly tamps it down. Dean must learn sooner rather than later that he can't defy John's orders. Not if it makes the difference between life and death.
Dean lifts up his head, his face expressionless. Without another word, Dean trudges to the bedroom. John lingers his gaze at his direction for the moment, but when nothing else happens, he turns and makes his way towards the kitchenette. He still has to feed Sam his dinner before attending to his monstrous hangover. He hopes that Sam will behave during dinner, or there will be tears and John isn't sure if they will be from his son or himself. Damn, Dean just has to choose today to be defiant.
Sam doesn't seem to want to follow his lead. He squirms in John's hold, struggling to get down. John knows that he's trying to go to Dean, and he can't allow that. If Sam manages to get to Dean, he will want Dean to feed him dinner, and John doesn't consider himself that cruel to let Dean be around food without letting him have some. He places Sam on the table and wags a finger at him.
"No, Sam. We'll eat dinner first, and then you can go to bed with Dean."
Sam shakes his head empathically. "I want Dean. I want Dean. I want Dean!" The last sentence was almost a shout.
John looks at the bedroom again, his resolution wavering. But he knows that if he reneges on the punishment then Dean will learn to get away with other things, and he can't have that. Not when their lives might be at stake. He squares up his shoulder and faces Sam again, this time with a stern expression on his face.
"YES! DEAN!" That is definitely a scream.
"Sam, stop it!"
Sam shakes his head and begins wailing for his brother.
John feels like howling himself. Today is just not his day.
"Dean. Go back to sleep, son. It's late."
Dean shook his head. He had woken up from the nightmare again, and had nearly fallen back asleep when he heard soft sobs coming from the kitchen. Dean had heard his Dad crying before, a few weeks after Mummy had died, in the middle of the night when he thought Sam and Dean were asleep. At that time, he was too small to comfort his father, and he didn't feel like talking. Now that he was bigger and had decided to start speaking again, he decided to wake up and see if he could be of any help to him. Maybe Dad needed a hug, just like Sam whenever he was crying.
He walked cautiously towards his father, who was sitting at the dining table, smelling like he had just come back from work sometimes. His head was still facing down at the table, and Dean had a sudden feeling like Dad was hiding from him, not unlike the other time when Dean didn't want to talk to anyone and just kept his head looking down.
Dean reached his father, put a hand on his knee, and told him the same words that he often told Sam.
"It's okay, Dad."
Dad finally looked up, and his eyes were red and watery. He smiled shakily at Dean, ruffled his hair, cleared his throat, and said in a rough voice, "Tomorrow is a special day, Dean. Do you know it's your birthday tomorrow?"
Dean shook his head. He had only been to school for a few months, and he couldn't read yet. But he remembered that there was a party the last time it was his birthday and that there were balloons and games and presents. He also remembered a number 4-shaped cake.
"Am I five now?"
His father took in a deep audible breath at the question and shook his head. "You are going to be six, Dean. Your birthday last year was…" he tailed off. Took another deep breath and continued, "I'll make it up to you this year. What would you like to have as a present, son?"
Dean thought about it. "A new backpack? And can we go out for ice cream when you get home? Sammy likes ice-cream."
Dad laughed briefly, and Dean felt pleased for being able to make his father laugh.
"Okay, Dean. You pick a backpack, and when I reach home tomorrow we can go out for dinner and ice-cream. You can even have the cookies if you want."
Dean smiled. That was great. "Okay, Dad. Do you want to go to bed now?"
"Yeah, okay." His father stood up, and Dean held on tight to his hand, guiding him into the bedroom. Once Dad reached the bed, he fell forwards on his face, leaving his shoes still on his feet, and his feet hanging out of the bed. With care, Dean pulled his father's shoes out from his feet, pushed the then sock-covered feet onto the bed proper, and covered him with the blanket. He looked at Dad's lax face for a moment, and then climbed up the bed a little to reach his face.
He planted a kiss on his father's cheek. "Good night, Daddy."
As he trudged over to his and Sammy's bedroom, he thought back to what his father had said. It was his birthday.
"Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me…" he hummed softly to himself, a small smile gracing his face. Tomorrow was going to be a good day, he thought.
Dean thinks that he can only blamed himself for spoiling today. He shouldn't have eaten the cookie. He shouldn't even take the cookies out from the cupboard. Maybe if he hadn't taken it, Dad would not have gotten angry. He glances down at the picture of the backpack in his hands. He doesn't want it now. He just wants Dad not to be angry with him again. Maybe if he apologizes, Dad might not be angry with him anymore. He makes up his mind and drops quietly to his feet.
He's nearing the doorway when he hears Sam starting to cry. He moves nearer to the doorway and he can see Dad trying to pacify his upset baby brother. It's his job to make his brother stop crying. Dean wants to go over, but he doesn't want to disobey his father again. As he watches, Dad picks Sam up and is stroking his back, murmuring soft words that he strains to hear.
"Ssshh, Sammy, you can have Dean after dinner okay? Let me feed you, and then you can go to bed with Dean. Be a good boy for me, all right?"
There is something painful and heavy sitting on his chest when he sees Dad whispering those words to Sam. He remembers a time when Dad would do the same thing to him the way he is hugging Sam right now. Dean knows that he's too old for hugs from Dad, but sometimes Dean thinks back to the time Before The Fire and remembers Dad giving him hugs every day and he misses that. He gets most of his hugs from Sam these days, and it's all right, but he still misses the hugs from Dad.
"Be a good boy for Daddy okay, Sammy? Be a good boy and stop crying." Dean can still hear Dad talking softly to Sam. Now Dad is petting Sam's soft curls.
"I want Dean." Sam is sobbing now, and Dean's eyes start to fill up with tears. Because of him, Sam is crying, and he can't go over to make him smile again. Dean feels so bad. It's his entire fault. He doesn't deserve a present. He doesn't deserve a good birthday today. Right now he doesn't even want a birthday.
He swipes his tears away, closes the door and trudges back to the bed. He doesn't want to see his younger brother crying for him. He thinks that his father is doing a better job of caring for Sam than him. He's not a good boy for Dad. How can Dad love him if he's not good, and doesn't follow instructions like Dad wants? How can he take care of Sam if he isn't beside him?
He promises himself not to ask for anything for his birthday anymore. He knows that his job is taking care of Sam, and he cannot afford to fail at that. Last year when he turned five he didn't receive anything, he hadn't even remembered it, but Sam was all right then, and Dad wasn't angry with him. At least he thinks so, since he cannot remember Dad ever being this angry with him, not even when he didn't want to talk for a long while After The Fire. So next year, he will not ask anything, and everything will be all right. Decision made, he looks down at the picture of the backpack, and crumples the paper. He returns to sitting on the bed and staring at the wall, back rigid and tense, mind playing a loop of last night's scene. He refuses to think of today as his birthday, but as a day that he fails at obeying his father.
A long while later, he hears the creak of the door opening, follows by Sam's voice. "Dean!"
He turns his head and sees Dad putting Sam down on the floor, having already changed Sam into his Garfield PJs. Sam scurries, as fast as his little legs will allow him to, towards Dean, and Dean allows himself a small smile as Sammy reaches his side and grabs his legs. He turns towards the doorway, but his father has already closed the door. Dean thinks Dad doesn't want to see him still. He bites his lips to stop himself from calling out to him.
He turns back to Sam, picking him up and making him lay down beside him in bed. Dean does the same. Sam seems to sense his mood, and instead of asking him to "Tell me story, Dean" like he always does, he just tucks his head into Dean's shoulders and wraps his arms around his older brother. Dean does the same, stroking Sam's back and soon Sam is sleeping, soft snores filling up the room.
Dean thinks back to all the things that he and Sam had done today, and directs a small sad smile to his sleeping brother. He continues to stroke his hair and back, and soon the repetitive motion is lulling him to sleep. Despite his efforts to forget what a horrible day today has been, "Happy birthday to me today…" is his last thought before joining Sam in Slumberland.
Thanks for taking the time to read this! If you have more time, why not review it?? *gives Sam's puppy-eyes*