"I can't believe you talked me into this," Sam huffs, pushing the belled tip of his floppy green hat out of his eyes. "You're such a dick...owl."
"A dick owl?" Dean scoffs. A shit-eating grin spreads underneath his false white beard as he leans back on his velvety-red throne, spreading his arms wide to receive the next child in line - a dark-haired boy of about five who climbs easily and courageously into Dean's lap.
"A dick owl?" the kid parrots, blinking up at Dean with huge brown eyes.
Sam's eyes go wide. "No...no, not a...Santa didn't say-"
"That's right," Dean says, and he feels a warm weight on his chest as the kid allows his head to rest there. "Santa didn't. Sammy the Elf did."
The boy casts his ridiculous eyes up at Sam. "He's real big for an elf."
Dean snorts. "That he is, kid. That he is. Now, what's your name?"
The boy cautiously touches Dean's beard, his movements slow and full of wonder. "Elliot. What's yours?"
"Dean," Dean replies automatically.
"No, it's Santa," Sam corrects, looking incredibly frustrated and semi-irate. "Santa's just teasing, Elliot."
"M'not," Dean insists as Elliot trucks on bravely, gripping the end of Dean's fake facial hair in a small hand. "My name's Dean. Dean Clause...dude, you don't want Santa to start screaming in agony do you?" He gently pries the wee fingers from the beard, is relatively unsurprised when the boy insists on keeping his hand afterwards - every single time, with these kids, and their insistences on tugging on the face of one their few childhood idols.
"You just said your name was Dean," Elliot replies.
"It is. But my professional name is Santa."
"Dean," Sam groans.
"Santa," Dean corrects. "What are you trying to do? Ruin his childhood?" He looks back down at the kid with mischievous eyes. "Now, what do you want for Christmas, Elliot?"
The little hand reaches back up for the beard, but Dean easily encloses it in his own fist before the awful and inevitable can happen. Elliot gives in easily, his eyes thoughtful, his baby teeth chewing on his little lip as he ponders the question.
It takes too long.
"Elliot?" Sam prompts gently. "Santa has a lot of kids to see today. Do you know what you want for Christmas?"
The teeth release the lip. Brown eyes look first at Sam, then at Dean before the boy nods decisively. "I want a dick owl."
Dean chokes on a laugh. Sam smacks a huge hand against his face.
"I want one," Elliot insists. Then asks in curious tones,"What is it?"
"It's a..." Sam trails off, his eyes panicked as he searches frantically for an answer to this question. Years of mediocre childhood hand-me-downs float through his head, but none of them will do, not for a kid this precocious and adorable and finally his mind just stops, comes to a not-so-smooth landing on the Christmas of 1996 and its completely absurd television broadcasts focusing on inane toy crazes. "It's a not-very-good nickname for a Tickle Me Elmo."
Dean's biting his own lip now, trying not to explode in peels of laughter. Elliot blinks at Sam, and then narrows his wee eyes as if he doesn't quite believe him. To Sam's great distress, the little boy looks to Dean for confirmation.
"Santa Dean?" he asks.
Dean coughs. "Yeah...yeah, El. It's a Tickle Me Elmo. You want Santa to bring you a Tickle Me Elmo?"
"I...what is it?" Elliot asks, confused.
"Shit, they don't even sell those anymore, do they? Uh...Sam the Elf here will build you one in his, um-"
"Amazon dot co...toy-building...hut," Sam interjects.
"Yeah, that," Dean nods, and then quickly changes the subject. "Does your Mommy want a picture?"
Elliot's rather attention-negligent Mommy did, indeed, want a picture. So the photographer took one as Dean Clause and his faithful elf of gigantic stature, Sam the Elf, smiled bright and handsome smiles and little Elliot smiled, too, though his smile was actually one of extreme discombobulation.
"Stay cool, man," Dean says fondly as Elliot hops off his lap.
"Bye, Santa Dean!" Elliot hollers over his shoulder as he speeds off towards his mother, and Dean feels warm and fulfilled for about the hundredth time today. Another happy little customer whose adoration is in the right place.
Again, Sam groans. "I can't believe you talked me into this."
"Shut it, dick owl," Dean replies. His arms are already spread for the little girl with braided hair toddling towards him.