A/N: This is a gift for SerenitysVision on the Unbound Creations Gift Exchange :D. Hope everyone enjoys this, especially her, and has a Merry Christmas!
Let Your Heart Be Light
Snow cascaded down onto the Impala's sleek exterior. The windshield wipers worked feverishly to swipe away the accumulation. The tires slid every once in a while on the black ice hiding on the winding roads.
Bright lights flickered through the flakes, casting their colors into the car. Smoke from chimneys swirled up into the falling snow. Garland swathed across fences and bridges alongside the road.
All in all it was quite a picturesque scene out the windows. But at the moment, Dean could care less. A couple of years ago he would have been excited to get the break to head back to Bobby's for Christmas. But this year, thoughts of Lucifer, angels and demons…Jo's death…That's all that Dean could think about as he maneuvered the car down the slick roads leading to Bobby's house where the brothers would be spending Christmas.
Originally, Dean had intended to keep hunting through the holidays. Down time led his brain back to the images from Carthage, of kissing a bloodied and broken Jo.
But thanks to a rather nasty spirit slamming his baby brother against a brick wall, going to Bobby's for some down time was the only option. The spirit had caused a decent amount of damage, enough that Dean had chosen to rush to a hospital instead of a motel. Sam currently sat in the passenger seat, his head resting against the cool window. His ribs were badly bruised, stitches etched above his left eyebrow where he had connected against the wall, and his wrist rested encased in a brace while the sprain and bruising healed. Overall, the kid was a mess and definitely in need of some down time…Dean on the other hand was not.
The radio sputtered back on; the bad weather wrecked havoc on the reception. REO Speedwagon began to play through the static. Dean instantly cursed and slammed his hand against the knob to shut it off, not wanting to think of the last time he'd really listened to the band.
Dean instantly glanced over at his brother, who was now blinking awake and trying to sit up more.
"What the hell you talking about?"
Sam grunted at the effort to move in the passenger seat. After finally maneuvering into a more comfortable position, he started talking again. "I know you're upset, and I'm guessing it's because of Jo." Sam looked apologetically up at his brother.
"Dude," Dean huffed, "must've given you too much pain killers."
"Cut the crap Dean."
Dean sent a glare towards his brother. "Look, it wasn't like we ever hooked up or anything. So you don't know what you're talking about. We weren't like that."
"That's crap Dean," Sam insisted. "Everyone who knew you two knew there was those feelings there. So don't try to act like you're not upset about her right now."
A silence spread through the car, neither brother saying anything. Dean stared out the windshield at the new snow. Sam's gaze remained on his brother.
"So what if I am?" Dean finally broke the silence. "Not much you can do about it Sam."
After a few moments, Sam began carefully searching through his bag beside him. "That, um, that first Christmas I started back hunting, just about killed me. I mean, I haven't been a big fan of Christmas since I found out about the hunting life. You know that. But Jess…" Sam smiled as the memories flooded his thoughts. "Our first Christmas in the apartment, I woke up that Saturday after Thanksgiving to the sound of all these bells. Jess had gotten up at like five in the morning so she could pull all these boxes of decorations out from storage in the basement. By the time I got up at eight, she already had garland and lights strung up in just about every room."
Sam could tell Dean was listening intently, but the older brother remained silent.
"About a week later, we borrowed her friend's car so she could drag me out to the middle of nowhere. She knew of this place to get trees, and she refused to get them anywhere else. She picked this one that was way too big for our living room, but there was no talking her out of it. She strung up so many lights on that thing…I'm amazed it didn't combust on us. And those damn needles went all over the freaking place. Even ended up with some in my boxers…No idea how the hell that happened."
Dean laughed a little…finally…
"But it made her happy." Sam finally found the desired object from his bag and pulled it out to show his brother. "You can tell." He handed over a picture to Dean. A giant tree took up most of the photo, but there right in front of the tree stood Sam and Jess. Jess was practically beaming with sheer joy. Sam looked pretty happy himself.
"When you left the motel to get some dinner that night, on the first Christmas after loosing her, I pulled out that picture with every intention of just burning it or ripping it to shreds. I couldn't take it. By the time I finally worked up the courage, you came walking back in with all those bags of food. After that, I couldn't bring myself to do it. Barely even looked at it much after that. Now I can though. It just got better over time. I can look at this now and not see how she died, or the visions, or Yellow Eyes. All I see now is the girl I loved at her happiest. That's all that matters." Sam took the photo back from Dean. "You'll get there too."
Dean gulped back his emotions and turned his attention once again to getting to Bobby's.
The Impala crushed down the mounting snow as it turned into Singer Salvage. Dean eased the car into park before gently nudging his sleeping brother. Sam blinked lazily.
"You with me?"
"I think so," Sam said between yawns.
"Come on Sasquatch. Let's get you inside before I freeze my ass off out here."
Dean moved to the passenger side of the car, helping Sam out while being very mindful and careful of Sam's ribs and wrist. The ice and snow was caked around the pathways to Bobby's ramp and front porch, but Dean maneuvered Sam through the wintry mix without letting him slip once. Dean handed over the key to Sam while he ran back to grab their duffle and computer bags.
Sam opened the door and shuffled in from the cold. "Hey, Bobby!" Sam called into the warm house.
"In here boy!"
Sam carefully shrugged off his coat and moved towards the living room in which Bobby's voice had come. Sam first noticed the smell of coffee wafting through the rooms. He then saw the cast of multicolored lights from the corner of the living room. Bobby's wheelchair sat near a small Christmas tree. Bright lights wrapped around the branches, and a silver star sat on the top. A few expensive glass ornaments mingled between the cheaper looking ones. Sam remembered them from when he was younger.
Bobby laughed a little before turning his chair around to face Sam. He first noticed the smile starting to grace the young hunter's face at the sight of the tree. He then took in the bruises and brace that Sam donned. "Well, don't just stand there. Take a seat before you keel over ya idgit."
"Looks good, Bobby," Sam said as he made his way over to the couch.
Bobby nodded in acknowledgement. "Where's that brother of yours?"
"Grabbing the bags."
"How's he holdin' up?"
Sam sighed and ran his good hand through his long hair. "Not too sure to be honest. He, uh, he seemed pretty upset on the way here. Tried to talk to him about it some, but not sure how much good it did. Damn pain meds knocked me out before I could really tell."
Bobby opened his mouth to respond, but the front door slammed open and shut. The sound of wet boots against the wooden floors flooded the house. "Sam? Bobby?"
"Living room!" Bobby yelled back.
Dean entered seconds later, stashing the bags against the desk until later. He glanced at the tree, but didn't comment on it as Sam had. He instead walked towards the liquor cabinet. He was about to reach the glass tumblers when something on the nearby table caught his eye.
"Bobby! What the hell?"
"What's with all the damn yellin', boy?" Bobby wheeled his way over to Dean. Sam stayed seated on the couch, but craned his neck to see what was going on with his brother.
"Why is this out?"
As Bobby wheeled closer to the desk, he realized what Dean had in his hand. "You're hollerin' over that?"
Bobby reached up and grabbed the objects from Dean's hand and wheeled back away from him towards the couch.
"Well, too damn bad ya baby!"
"Mind filling me in?" Sam sighed.
"You're brother's crying over a few old pictures!"
Bobby handed over the old photos to Sam.
The first he encountered was of a teenage Dean sitting on the couch with his present. "Hey, wasn't this the year Dad wrapped up the keys to the Impala for you?"
Dean sighed in frustration and defeat as he flopped down next to his brother. "Think so."
"It was," Bobby interjected. "He couldn't figure out the best way to give 'em to ya. So he ran into town on Christmas Eve and grabbed some car wax and oil so he would have something else in that box. He really wanted to surprise ya with it."
Although still annoyed and upset, Dean couldn't help but smile at the memory. "Yeah, I didn't see it coming."
Sam continued to flip through the old photos. "God, I'd forgotten about his." Sam turned the photo over towards Dean then Bobby. It was probably one of the few pictures of all the Winchester boys together. John stood behind his boys, a large smiling across his face and a goofy Santa hat on top his head. "How the hell did we get him to wear that?"
Dean just shrugged.
Bobby huffed out a laugh and took the picture from Sam. "That was the first Christmas you boys spent with me. Your Daddy had to go on some hunt, didn't want you boys to miss out on Christmas though. You had been coming here on and off for a while then anyway. He dropped ya off a week before Christmas. And I quickly learned that Dean wanted nothing to do with Santa or anything with the holiday. But you, Sam, I couldn't get ya to shut up about the man in red."
"I remember that," Dean said around a laugh. "You were what, four or five….And all you'd talk about was reindeer and buying cookies for Santa, all that. Didn't you even come up with some plan to see him?"
"Yeah, I think so."
"Hell, I know ya did," Bobby said. "I put ya two to bed that night. You were tryin' to get out of bed to see Santa as soon as I tucked you in and walked out of the room. So, after I went downstairs, I changed into an old Santa costume I'd borrowed from some friend of mine. I waited til I heard you and Dean coming down those steps. Then I crept over to our tree and started putting a few presents underneath it. I think it was all your brother could do to keep ya from running right up to me."
"I had him practically pinned against the wall."
"But ya somehow managed to drag him back to bed. I took off the Santa costume and your dad pulled in about that time. I left the hat on the couch when I was trying to get him in without waking you boys up. Sam found the thing the next morning and couldn't believe that he had his Dad back and Santa's hat to boot."
Dean started laughing again. "I was four Dean!" Sam tried to defend himself.
"I believe you ended up puttin' it on your Dad in all your excitement before I took the picture."
Sam shuffled through more of the pictures, bringing out old memories of Christmases past.
Finally, Bobby spoke up once again. "Not to go all sappy on ya, but not sure what I would've done if your dad hadn't started bringing you boys here 'round Christmas." Both the brothers looked confused. "After Karen died….Christmases were too hard. She loved it. Always baking and singing…" Bobby smiled faintly at the images playing in his mind. "Without her here, just didn't feel right. The first one after her death was spent in a bar getting drunk off my ass and fighting with anybody who came near me."
Dean understood the feeling. Earlier in the night, that was exactly what he had been considering doing himself.
"But, with ya'll here, there was always something. Between Dean tryin' to get the tree decorated so Sam would get all excited and Sam writing out a letter to Santa for both of ya…It was never dull. That's for sure. It helped a lot. Reminded me why Karen loved the holiday so damn much. Made me remember I had too."
Emotions lodged back into Dean's throat, and he tried to breath around it. Sam seemed to be struggling with the same problem as well, but he managed to continue to flip through the last of the pictures. He soon came upon a small picture of a little blonde haired girl in a Christmas dress. Sam was about to continue flipping, but Dean reached over and grabbed the picture from him, not really sure what compelled him to do so.
"Who's this Bobby?" Dean asked.
A sad smile formed across Bobby's face. "That would be Jo."
All the emotions Dean had been trying to bottle down threatened to surface. Bobby must have taken notice because he didn't bother to reach out for the picture like he had with all the others. But it didn't stop him from talking.
"That was one of the years you all weren't here. I ended up taking on a hunt near the Roadhouse. Bill and Ellen always left the place open on Christmas. Hell, most hunters don't have a family to go home to for the holidays. They figured they'd be a good a family as any for us. Jo must've been about one or two that year. She was running all over that bar, getting into everything. Ellen was trying to keep up with her, but you can imagine how well that was going. I was sittin' by myself at the end of the bar, nursing my second or third drink of the night, and not paying much attention. Apparently Jo had gone over and picked off some of the ornaments from the tree. She ran straight over to be, started tryin' to climb up my damn leg. Figured the kid would hurt herself tryin', so I reached down and pulled her onto the counter in front of me. She started smiling and handing me her ornaments. Every time I gave 'em back to her, she'd just shake her head and point back at me."
Dean started to smile at the thoughts of Jo's determination, even at that young of an age. It was definitely something he'd always liked about her.
"Like I said, you kids always got me through the holidays." With that, Bobby wheeled back towards the kitchen.
Dean started to get up to walk back to the liquor cabinet to drown out the thoughts of Jo, but a small whooshing sound filled the house followed by a string of cursing from Bobby.
Both brothers hurried into the kitchen. Bobby sat over to the side. Castiel stood in front of him. A large pool of coffee laid out in between them….It wasn't too hard to figure out what all the cussing had been about…
"I'll start another pot Bobby," Sam said as he moved towards the coffee maker.
"What are you doing here Cas?" Dean finally spoke up.
"Well, normally I spend Christmas, well, with…"
Dean nodded, instantly aware of what the angel was getting at. It seemed as if he was not the only one mourning tonight. In a way they all were, and it did seem to ease a lot of his own grief.
"Well, ya could've used the friggin door," Bobby stated.
While Bobby continued to fuss at Cas, Dean moved closer towards the counter where Sam was leaning. His brother instantly looked up at him. "Sorry this isn't how you wanted to spend Christmas, man."
Dean thought it over for a few moments. "Yeah, I guess it wasn't. But sounds like my way wouldn't have been to good, huh…"
"From experience, not really bro."
Dean nodded his head and reached up to clasp Sam's shoulder. "Thanks Sammy."
Sam smiled brightly. "Merry Christmas, Dean."
A/N: Here is a link to see the pics mentioned in the fic :D Go to Flicker at type in the following after the com /photos/moviegeek03/5269860115/