Rating/Warnings: GEN, PG-13, teen!chesters, no spoilers for anything
Characters: Dean (17-ish), Sam (13-ish), random OC's
Disclaimer: Not mine, can't give them warm socks.
A/N: A late holiday fic. Playing with time a little here. The bits labeled with 'First Period', 'Second Period', etc are things being overheard at school after coming back from winter break. The other stuff happens when it says it does. I've also taken liberties with the boys' fannish tendencies. May be edited, re-summarized or re-titled later.
Eye of The Beholder
"Man, my Christmas sucked. My folks dragged us all up the stupid mountain and took us skiing."
"I thought you loved skiing."
"Not for Christmas. We had to wait until noon the day after Boxing Day for our real presents, the ones that weren't skis and snow gear and crap. They didn't take them up the mountain."
"Wow. Not 'til Boxing Day?"
"No, the day after! My friend Jasper in Minnesota was already a tenth level Paladin by the time I'd signed up on my Ultima Online account. It sucked!"
Dean was long past stealing presents from nearby residences. Sam was a newly-minted teen and acting too cool for Christmas, but still, Dean wanted to find some little thing for him, something that might make him forget the new 'my name is Sam' regime and revert him back to Sammy, if only for a few minutes on Christmas morning.
In an alley two weekends before Christmas, after he and Dad took out the ghoul snacking his way through the city morgue, Dean saw something sticking out from behind a dumpster. He knew it'd be perfect.
Dad didn't notice Dean loading it into the trunk of the car along with the weapons, or if he did, he didn't say anything about it.
"You don't like your phone, Steph?"
"It's not the right color. I hate it."
"It's pink. You love pink. Your entire existence is pink."
"Boys! Honestly! It's not pink, Bradley, it's salmon."
"Don't listen to him, Steph. You must be so traumatized!"
"I am not getting stuck with a phone the color of a smelly fish, Kendra!"
"Your mom wouldn't exchange it?"
"No. I called dad and he was on her side for once, can you believe it? I have to use this, this, ugly fish-phone until I die!"
"Oh my god, that's, like, abuse or something."
"I know. I'm gonna, like, 'drop' it in front of the cross-town bus this weekend. Want to be my back-up witness to the 'accident'?"
"Of course! Think they'll get you a better one?"
"If they don't, I'm filing for emancipation."
"It's only reasonable."
Dad had headed off on a gig right before the solstice. Sam didn't even look up when Dad left, saying he'd try to be back for Christmas. Dean had snagged the thing out of the trunk and hid it under the snow-covered hedge beside the door.
Sam was in school for one more day, before winter break started, but Dean's last midterm exam had been the day before, and today was the lame-ass 'Holiday Assembly'. Funny as it might be to see the teachers doing their own extra-educational version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" - even with the shop teacher playing the little dog - Dean had a time-limit and a mission.
Sam left for class that morning and Dean stayed behind, pulling the thing out from behind the hedge.
It was a two-legged Imperial Walker, from the third Star Wars movie. Dean could see where a hinge had popped loose, and where the battery contacts were corroded (also where a medium-sized dog had chewed on it and where someone had scratched 'Jason is a dork' into the grey plastic) With some cleaning and fixing, Dean thought it might actually work.
He hauled it inside.
"Horror show. A total horror show. A whole day spent with my family. Being happy. It was torture."
"Did you get good stuff at least?"
"They got me a bike."
"And some football gear, and a DVD-player."
"Well the DVD-player's okay."
"I can't like any of it. If I like the DVD-player then I have to like the attempt to turn me into a normal boy. They don't understand the dark anguish of my soul. Dark anguished souls don't ride bikes and play football."
"Yeah. I guess you're right."
"Of course I am. Christmas is all a bourgeois excuse to feed the capitalist machine anyway, so there's not even any point to it unless you get good stuff."
Dean blinked and rubbed at his eyes, hearing noises in the kitchenette. He hid in the bathroom most of the night Christmas Eve, trying to get the Walker to work. He'd cleaned the battery contacts, re-connected the hinge, rewired the left leg and made sure all the gears meshed. He'd even warmed the surface and smoothed out the chew-toy marks and the scratched 'Jason is a'. He'd left 'dork' because hey, it was for Sammy after all.
Damn thing still wouldn't work. It was Christmas morning and all he had for Sam was a busted toy someone else had thrown away, one that was hiding under the bathroom sink, not even wrapped.
"Are you gonna get up or what?" Sam called across the motel room.
As Dean levered himself up, the smell of coffee brewing hit him and pulled him the rest of the way out of bed.
Sam stood beside the small dining table cleared of homework and research. "Merry Christmas, Dean," Sam said, handing his brother a steaming cup of coffee.
Grunting in as festive a manner as he could manage, Dean took the cup. So much for the hope he'd forget what day it was and I could work some more on the damn thing.
Beside the token box of red and green Holiday Rice Krispies on the table was a lumpy package.
Dean burnt his tongue on the coffee in surprise. "You got me something?" he coughed, sitting down at the table.
Sam shrugged. "It's really nothing."
Dean put down the coffee and examined the package. Hagar the Horrible stared up at him, distorted around the corners of the package contents.
"You gonna read it or open it?" said Sam, smirking.
Dean peeled off the paper. Inside was a small thing like a shovel, with a brown dipped-vinyl handle riveted on. The edge of the dark metal gleamed silver-bright.
"It's a trowel," Sam said. "They made us make 'em in metal shop. I put a real edge on it though. Figured it'd be good for digging through roots and stuff."
Dean ran a thumb along the shiny edge and whistled. "This thing could double as a weapon, Sammy! Real sharp. Nice job!"
Sam ducked his head. "They were all supposed to have either bright orange or bright green handles too, but I, uh, mixed 'em up so it'd come out brown. Less visible in the dark. The shop teacher knocked my mark down for that."
Mouth tipping in a half-smile, Dean looked at his little brother. "You lost points on a school assignment to make something for me?"
Sam ducked his head again, hiding a grin. "Shop teacher's a dick."
"They made him play a dog in that assembly Grinch thing, I heard."
"I know, I saw. It was cathartic."
"Cathartic, hunh?" Dean smirked, then his face drooped. "I uh-"
"I wanted it to be good, but... Wait here." Dean sighed and went into the bathroom.
"You know what they gave me? Clothes."
"Oh God. No."
"They said 'you like clothes, so we got you clothes.' Direct quote."
"Oh God. How bad?"
"Neon yellow tube skirt."
"Oh, it gets worse. There was also the frilly floral top thing I'm hiding in my gym bag, and jeans. Guess jeans."
"Oh, wow. Harsh."
"They gave Danny a bunch of games for his Nintendo and cash.
"That is so unfair!"
"I can't wait until I go to college so I can move away from that hell-pit forever."
"I so understand. Wow."
Dean bent to retrieve the non-functional Walker from under the bathroom sink, flicking the switch to 'on' with faint hope. Nothing. He flicked the switch off again and hid the thing behind his back as he exited the bathroom.
Sam was smirking at the table. "I was wondering what you were doing in there last night. There were some seriously abnormal bathroom noises."
Taking the few steps from the bathroom to the kitchenette, Dean plunked the Imperial Walker in front of Sam without ceremony. The thing stood on its own two feet, leaning drunkenly.
Sam's face froze.
He hates it. "It doesn't work," Dean babbled. "I've been trying to fix it, but I haven't been able to. I can keep trying. It's supposed to walk and shoot things. It- I'll keep trying to fix it. It really kind of sucks."
Sam turned to Dean and beamed. "Are you kidding? It's awesome!"
Dean blinked. "Really?"
"Yeah!" Sam picked up the toy. "It's one of those chicken-leg Walkers from the third movie, right? The ones the Ewoks took down?"
Dean smiled, watching Sam flip open the cockpit door and wiggle the Walker's feet. "Yeah, Return of the Jedi. You like it?"
"It's great!" Sam reached for the on switch.
For a split-second Dean had a rush of floating hope that there would be some kind of Christmas miracle and the Walker would turn on and work perfectly when Sam flipped the switch.
Of course it didn't.
Sam's face stayed bright and gleeful though, and Dean's hope faded back down into himself instead of shattering. Silly to expect anything else from a broken toy, but for a fraction of a second it felt like maybe on Christmas morning, it might just have been possible. Dean couldn't remember feeling that way very often; not for a very long time.
"Bet this thing will look awesome in the snow!" Sam grinned, heading for his duffel bag to get dressed, clutching the Walker.
Dean looked at the half-finished cup of coffee and the unused cereal bowls on the table before heading for his own duffel bag. "Hey, we can pitch snowballs at it, do that ice-planet battle from Empire Strikes Back"
"I only got half the things on my list."
"Wow. That sucks!"
"It's not like it was a long list, or I was asking for sports cars, just a new computer, some games, a new bike. Normal stuff, I mean, a computer and a bike? They're even practical! I got about fifteen things from it and some books and clothes and crap."
"Are your parents broke?"
"Naw. They're just cheap. I'm already making my list for next year. That's really pathetic, isn't it?"
"Yeah, it is."
Sam and Dean dressed warmly, and tumbled out the motel room door into the snow, laughing. An hour later the Impala came rumbling home, and another half-hour later all three Winchesters went inside, snow-soaked and smiling.
It was a good Christmas.
- - -