Dean told him that he had tortured souls in hell, Sam hadn't been able to look him in the eye since the admission. Not because he was ashamed of his big brother, but because he didn't know how to deal with Dean's despair. Dean had never been one to be that profoundly sad. He was always the strong one, the one who took care of others, Dean, to Sam's knowledge, had never needed anyone to take care of him. And here it was Christmas, and all Sam wanted to do was escape, get away from his brother, his sadness, his restlessness, his pain, his hyperness, he just simply wanted to get away from his brother.
What in the hell was wrong with him?
One year ago, he had been so profoundly sad and scared at the prospect of his brother's death and the fact that he wouldn't be around for the next Christmas that he had refused to celebrate with his brother, refused to acknowledge the day. And here he was, a year later, and he had been granted the biggest Christmas wish of all time, and all he wanted to do was find Ruby, and kill himself some demons. Away from Dean. Away from the pressure. Away from the sadness. Away from Dean.
Sam ran a hand through his hair and sighed. Dean was sitting on the floor with the motel television in pieces all around him. It quit working, acted like something just exploded inside, and Dean had spent the better part of the afternoon working on it. Coming up for air long enough to go to the bathroom or check and see if Sam had found a hunt for the post holiday season.
He barely spoke, he barely ate, and he most certainly avoided the realization that Christmas was the following day. Even at the worst of times, Dean made an effort for the holiday, even if it was as simple as making sure they had a decent dinner, or spent the day inside playing card games and talking about something other than hunting. But, this year, Dean was doing everything in his power to avoid the subject and for some reason Sam was all right with that. He didn't want to spend another day cooped up in the motel room while Dean piddled with something. He wanted to be free. He would never say it out loud, but ever since Dean's return he felt trapped. It shamed him, but just because the shame was present didn't mean the feeling went away. Dean had taken care of him his entire life, gone to hell for him, he should be grateful, should be so thrilled to have him back that he should have a permanent smile on his face and a permanent lightness in his step. But that wasn't the case. He felt trapped, felt like he was trying to be forced back into a skin he had shed and was now too big for.
"You can go to bed Sam. I can do this by flashlight."
"Why don't you go to bed Dean?" Sam asked hoping that his brother would go to sleep first and he could skip out.
"I can't sleep. Too wired. Go on Sammy. You look tired." He was doing it again, he was treating him like a kid and Sam wanted to tear his hair out. Sam took a deep breath and decided that he should go to bed, maybe the irritation would lessen with a good night's sleep. God knows that his demon vanquishing practice impeded his sleep.
He went to the bathroom, got ready for bed, and when he got out, the lights were out and Dean was in fact trying to get the television fixed via flashlight. Sam bit back a frustrated sigh and climbed into bed, turned to face the wall that didn't have the light playing against it and fell to sleep much quicker than anticipated.
He was in a mall, a busy mall, and he was thirteen years old again, in that crappy flannel shirt, and carrying that book bag that was ten sizes bigger than he was and he was standing in front of the mall Santa.
The Santa smiled at him and did the whole "Ho Ho Ho" laugh that must have been taught to them in Mall Santa School. He waved him to come closer to him Sam held his ground. "Come on up here young man. Tell Santa what you want for Christmas."
"I don't want anything for Christmas."
"Oh, come on young man. Every good boy deserves something for Christmas. You must want something.
"Firs, I haven't been a good boy this year, and second, there is no reason why I should tell you want I want, because there is no such thing as a fat man who comes down chimneys and gives kids presents. It's all a lie."
"Awful cynical for such a young man. You have to have faith Sam."
Sam snorted. "I had faith and it got me no where. Now I only believe in what I can see, what I can touch….faith just gets you hurt."
"That's not true."
"It is true."
"You had faith in your brother." Sam didn't say anything and the Santa nodded. "Ah. I see, we don't have faith in him anymore."
"No." Sam finally admitted after a moment.
"But you have faith in God."
"No. Not any more. Not since he let someone like my brother go to Hell, let him torture people. Not since one of his angels acted like touching me was akin to getting a fatal disease."
"But those are only God's messengers…"
"And if his messengers say that I'm not worth touching, then I think I get God's message loud and clear. So, why should I bother celebrating his son's birth? It's not like he loves me, or has faith in me."
"Ahhhh….you expect Him to have faith in you?"
"He made me, and he doesn't want me. He thinks I'm a freak. My brother thinks I'm a freak. God let the Yellow Eyed Demon infect me with demon blood, let me become this thing, this freak, and now he doesn't even want me. What kind of creator, what kind of father doesn't want his own children any more?"
"Sam Winchester, sometimes His plans aren't as clear as we would like them to be."
"Oh please." Sam rolled his eyes. "Save the bull shit for someone who is willing to buy it."
"Sam, this is all part of a bigger plan."
"A bigger plan that will what? Destroy the world? Destroy me? Make Dean a babbling idiot? What? Because I sure as hell ain't seeing any point to this big plan of his other than a lot of pain and suffering by good people, people that don't deserve to hurt."
"But if you have faith…"
"Then what? All the bad crap will happen, but then I might just get everything I want? I want my brother to be able to go to sleep, I want him to be able to sit down and not fidget, I want that scared frantic look out of his eyes. I want my brother to be the way he used to be. Having faith won't give that to me. Having faith won't fix my brother, won't make me feel any less suffocated by him, won't take the demon blood out of me. Won't put me back to rights. Having faith is useless."
Santa simply smiled. "Sam, you underestimate the power of faith. Thank you."
Sam looked at the old man quizzically. "For what?" Santa looked away from Sam, and began his "Ho Ho Ho" laugh again and a little girl climbed up onto his lap and he asked her what she wanted for Christmas, all the while Sam screamed for him to answer him.
"Sammy?" Dean asked and touched his brother's back. Sam startled and pulled the knife that he now kept under his pillow, and had it at his brother's neck. Dean didn't move he simply waited patiently for his brother to regain his bearings. Sam looked at him and slowly pulled the knife away from his neck. Breathing heavily, he wiped the sweat from his face.
"Sammy? You okay?" Sam nodded quickly.
"Yeah. Just a bad dream." Dean nodded.
"Okay. You need anything?"
"No. No. I'm fine."
"Okay." Dean didn't look like he believed him but he got up off of Sam's bed anyway and climbed into his own bed.
"You get the tv fixed?" Sam asked as he settled back down into his own bed.
"No. Just got tired." Dean didn't say anything more. He simply turned on his side. Sam listened to his brother's breathing and knew the moment he fell asleep. Sam watched the clock, expecting his brother to start thrashing, yelling or moaning in his sleep, wake up, go to the bathroom, and not sleep for the rest of the night. But it never happened. His chest rose and fell in a steady rhythm, there was no thrashing, no sound, just simply Dean sleeping.
After ensuring that his brother was sleeping, he turned on his side, and considered the dream. Had it been a dream? Or had it been an angel trick, like the one Castiel had played on Dean? Sam turned and watched his brother for a few minutes as he slept soundly. It didn't matter, Dean seemed to be getting uninterrupted sleep for the first time in months, and right now Sam didn't care if it was angel or demon induced. His brother deserved it. It was Christmas after all. Sam rolled over and on impulse he prayed and thanked God for the small miracle that was sleeping in the bed next to him. Thanked him for giving him back, and for allowing him this brief period of rest. Then Sam turned over, and fell to sleep.