Don't get me wrong, I like kids. Kids can be funny and smart and smart-ass and droll and innocent and all-knowing, and all without meaning to be. But the best thing of all about kids is that there's always somebody else looking after them. Parents, babysitters, teachers, aunts.
So the best thing about kids is that when I don't know what else to do with them, I can send them back where they came from.
No such luck this time.
John Winchester showed up at my door with a short apology and a really sick kid. Dean had a fever and a headache and the way he was looking flushed and lethargic and letting himself be carried at his Dad's shoulder even though he was eight, worried me.
What worried me too was the thought of little Sammy on the loose in my house with no big brother to look after him. I liked the kid, he was quiet and polite and knew not to touch things. But I'd never had to look after him. Things might change if I had to look after him.
Turned out I didn't need to worry. Sammy stayed up in the room with John and Dean. The few times I went by, to ask if they needed anything, to see how Dean was doing, to bring some food up for them, Sammy was in his Dad's lap in the chair next to the bed while Dean slept, or curled on the bed next Dean while they both slept, or on his hands and knees in a corner of the room, playing quiet war with little green soldiers while Dean was awake and John was tending to him.
The last time I went past, it was late, past dark. John was sitting stretched out on the bed, with Dean held against his chest, both sound asleep. Sammy was in the chair, reading quietly out loud to himself, out of some kids' book he had open on his lap. I think maybe he wasn't exactly reading out of the book, because the words he was saying weren't exactly making story sense.
He looked up at me when I stopped in the doorway, but he didn't say anything.
"Shouldn't you be in bed?"
"Dean always reads me a story first."
"I don't think he's gonna be reading you a story tonight."
Sammy sighed and his lower lip stuck out and his little stocking feet swished back and forth.
"He doesn't feel good. Daddy said to not to talk too loud or jump on the bed or ask a lotta questions on a 'cause a' Dean should needs to sleep."
Well, Sammy didn't say he needed anything, so -
"So - you're gonna read yourself a story and go to bed?"
"Okay. You go ahead and do that, then. I'll see you in the morning."
I went downstairs and had myself a nice, quiet evening.
For about fifteen minutes, and I heard little footsteps walking down my staircase.
I waited for Sammy to appear in the library, but the next sound I heard was a kitchen chair being dragged across the kitchen floor and then my kitchen sink turned on.
"What're you doin'?" I asked after I walked into the kitchen and found Sammy standing on a chair at the sink, drinking water out of a cup.
"Havin' water 'fore I go t'bed." He answered, sounding breathless after his swallow.
"Ooookay." I didn't point out to him the bathroom sink right across the hall from their room. Upstairs. "You done then? You going to bed now?"
"Uh hunh." He put the glass in the sink and climbed down and pushed the chair back up to the table. "G'night."
And then he trundled himself back up the stairs to bed and I watched him boost himself up each step to the top and then scuff himself down the hallway.
I never had any kids, and the way things turned out in my life, I was usually happy that was the case.
So, I went back to my davenport and my newspaper and beer.
And a few minutes later, I heard those footsteps down my stairs again and Sammy came into the library carrying his book. He stopped right in front of me.
"Thought you were goin' to bed?" I asked him.
He nodded, but asked,
"Do you know how t'read?"
"I've had some experience."
"Will you read me the story?"
He lifted the book towards me and gave me those sad, hoping eyes that for the rest of his life would make just about anybody do just about anything.
"Uh - yeah. Sure. One story and then bedtime. Okay?"
He nodded. Like his head was on springs.
"Okay." I took the book from him. "C'mon up and have a seat and we'll get this done."
I opened the book and flipped past the credits to the opening page of the story and expected Sammy to climb up on the davenport.
But he didn't.
I looked at him over the book, and when I did, he lifted his arms up to me. I never had kids but even I recognized the universal sign for 'lift me up'
And he dialed up the watts on those eyes and I was a goner.
"Okay, sure. C'mon."
I lifted him up, meaning to set him next to me only he somehow managed to plunk himself right where he wanted and I found myself with a lapful and armful of little Sammy Winchester. And like a professional, he right away boogeyed himself into the exact spot so he could rest his head on my chest and his ear over my heart and still be upright.
It took me a few beats or so to get used to the feeling of having a little person snuggling up in my arms, warm and comfortable and content, and it was a nice feeling. A really nice feeling. When I was pretty sure my voice would hold, I started reading the story.
We were only a few pages in when Sammy yawned and snuggled a little more and patted my chest.
"Uncle Bobby, I like you."
And damn if somehow a whole bunch of dust didn't up and get in my eyes right then.
"I like you too, Sammy."
A/N: you can find more of this story at my homepage (the link to which can be found on my fanfic dot net homepage.)