Disclaimer: Supernatural doesn't belong to me except for in my mind where schmoop abounds.
A/N: Thank you for reading! This is the third story in the 'Wish 'verse. I recommend reading at least the first story before you read this one as this is an AU and it may be difficult to follow if you don't get the background. In summary: Young Sammy's wish to be a grown up whenever his big brother, Dean, needs help gets granted by a well-meaning gypsy. The unexpected consequences of the wish cause an unbreakable bond to develop between the brothers. A magical creature, the black imp, attempts to take the wish away from the boys, but is thwarted by John who is then cursed by the imp to forever be in pain when his sons are nearby.
In this installment Dean is 10 and Sammy is 6 until his brother needs his help and the Wish transforms him into a 24 year old. Dad comes home from a hunt and something is…wrong. Once more it's up to adult Sam to protect young Dean from danger and this time he can't count on John for back-up.
Bonded and Broken
Chapter 1 Hawkman is Totally Cool
Squinting through the leaves of the tree he's using as cover, John quickly spies his quarry. A frigid wind blows and his breath puffs out in a cloud of vapor. October has no right to be this cold.
It's ghouls, the things he's hunting. Not much of a surprise considering their MO is so distinctive – the desecrated grave sites, the missing bodies, the gory mess left behind. John had been pretty sure he knew what was causing the uproar in the small town of Chinook in upstate Montana and now he has visual proof.
John's obviously not a fan of the cadaver-consuming creatures, but normally they're not too much of a problem. After all, they usually leave the living alone and focus their attention on the already dead. Also, ghouls are not particularly strong, nor are they particularly fast; they don't have poisonous stingers or sharp claws. In other words, they're generally easy game for any hunter worth his salt.
Which is why he is taken a little off guard by the three ghouls that step out of the shadows behind him at the same time as four more join the two he had already spotted leaving the open mausoleum with a decaying body carried between them. The sheer number of ghouls all in one place at the same time and apparently working together stuns John for a moment. Ghouls aren't known for their complex social hierarchies. They do live in family units, sure, you might find two sometimes three of them together at any one time, but this…nine of the disgusting creatures all working towards a common goal, well it's not something he was anticipating.
Still, he's able to take two of them down before he's overwhelmed by the remaining seven. His shotgun comes around to bear on one last female ghoul. The spray of blood from the hole in her head douses his face in crimson and all John can think about as the weight of the horde of ghouls crushes him to the ground is the two boys he left in the motel room this morning on the outskirts of town.
"When's dad coming back?" Sammy asks, probably for the tenth time that day and he feels Dean's growing frustration, but he can't help it. He's bored.
Dean sighs, doesn't even look up from his Auto World magazine. "Dad'll be back when he's back. He didn't say when to expect him. You know that already."
Yeah, he knows. Sammy swings his feet hard enough to kick the aluminum legs of the chair next to the one he's sitting in. It makes a satisfying metallic ringing sound so he kicks both legs faster, creating a beautiful melody. Dean seems to have other ideas.
"Cut it out, squirt." Dean grunts, flopping over onto his stomach on the bed with his head cradled in his crossed arms and the magazine resting on the pillow in front of him. The pages of the magazine are crumpled and tattered. It's the same one Dean's been reading for the last two days, ever since dad dropped them off at this motel and told them to 'take care of each other' and that he'd be back to get them as soon as he could.
Dad always used to say, 'Dean, take care of your brother.' His standard parting order has now changed to 'take care of each other' in deference to Sam's Wish, the one that transforms him into a grown up whenever Dean needs help. Sam thinks the new order is good, much better than the old one, because it makes him feel responsible and he likes helping his big brother. He wants Dean to let him do more stuff for him and now things feel a little more equal between them. Sam like for things to be fair.
He wishes there was something he could do right now. Anything at all, he's not picky. There are only so many things to do in a motel room though and Sammy has officially exhausted every last one of them. It's boring here. He's bored. Bored, bored, bored.
Dean won't even let him go outside to play. Not since he caught the creepy, stringy-haired man in the unit next to theirs watching them so intently, the look in his eyes greedy and apprising. Even though Sammy had asked the older boy why the man was watching them, Dean had just pursed his lips together tightly and locked the deadbolt on their motel room door.
Their room is on the second floor, the stairs to reach it are on the outside of the long brick building. A concrete walkway wrapping around the entire exterior provides access to all the rooms on the second floor. Sammy can think of at least five different games they could play on that walkway, but no, instead they have to stay locked up in the confining room with the stale air and the orange drapes and the matching orange bedspreads. Stupid stringy-haired man.
They have a hot plate and enough food in their room to last several days; cans of pasta with meat sauce, boxes of cereal, bags of chips, and bottles of apple juice because they don't need to be refrigerated, unlike milk. Provisions – Dean calls them and Sammy likes the way the word makes it sound as if they're on an adventure, maybe sailing unchartered seas or trekking across the wilds of Australia. He'd learned about Australia in school last month and he's a little obsessed with it. Kangaroos and koala bears are his new favorite animals.
First grade is really good, even better than kindergarten. He has two friends already, even though it's only October and school just started in September. Their names are Annie and Brett. He sits with them at lunch and they always play together at recess, usually tag or some game they make up on the spot that involves running and capturing and dodging and a home base of one kind or another. He likes them a lot, they're good friends, but neither of them is his best friend. That'll always be Dean.
Crawling onto the bed, Sammy leans against his brother's side and digs his pointy little elbow into the small of the older boy's back. "Dean, do you think we'll get back in time for school on Monday?" His class is going on a field trip to visit a fire station on Monday and he's been looking forward to it. This is the first time in two years that their dad has taken them with him on a hunt and Sammy's not sure why this time is different but he's ready to get back to their apartment, his school, and his friends.
"Ow, Sammy! How many times do I have to tell you your elbows are sharp?" Dean grumbles, rubbing the sore spot. "I don't know when we're going to get back. It kind of depends on when dad gets here, doesn't it?"
"Sorry Dean, sorry. I didn't mean to." Sammy hangs his head and looks up at his brother through a tangle of bangs. At six years old he already knows what affect that look has on his big brother. He tries not to take advantage of it too much. Only when he absolutely has to.
Dean huffs and rolls his eyes. "It's alright, just be careful with your lethal elbows of doom. Jeez, you're gonna kill me with those things one day."
The teasing sparkle in Dean's eye makes Sammy laugh and the affection rippling along their bond warms him up on the inside. Careful to tuck his elbows close to his sides, Sam lays down with his head on the same pillow as Dean's magazine so he can see his brother's face. "Why do you think dad brought us with him this time?"
Dean's shoulders twitch up in a shrug, the corners of his mouth turn down. The older boy looks tired all of a sudden and that doesn't make any sense to Sammy. They've been sitting around inside this room all day long so there's no reason at all to be tired. "I dunno Sammy. Could be he misses us. He's been leaving us by ourselves in the apartment for longer and longer. Seems like each time he goes on a new hunt he goes farther and farther away. Maybe he just wanted us nearby this time. I dunno," he repeats with a slight shake of his head.
The room is chilly, the heater not quite able to keep up with the drop in temperature the area is experiencing. Sammy tucks his socked feet under his brother's ribs to warm them up and pretends he doesn't notice Dean wrinkle his nose. Since his feet don't get pushed away he smiles serenely. "Halloween is next week and Brett says he's gonna dress up like Batman. He says I should be Robin." A scowl forms on Sammy's face. "But I don't want to be Robin. Robin's not cool like Batman, right Dean? Do you think Robin's cool?" Sam pauses and waits for his brother's opinion because Dean is the utmost authority on all things cool as far as Sammy is concerned.
Chuckling, Dean shakes his head. "Robin's named after a bird. How cool can he possibly be? I mean he's not even named after a cool bird like a hawk. Hawks are cool, Hawkman is totally cool, but Robin…" The older boy shakes his head again. "Not so much."
"That's what I told Brett." Sammy grins at the vindication. "And then Annie said she's gonna dress up as a clown." An involuntary shudder shakes him from head to toe. Clowns are creepier than the stringy-haired guy next door, with their white faces and blood red lips. They always look so sinister to him and it doesn't matter how many times Dean tells him clowns are just people wearing makeup and wigs, he still can't stand to be in the same room with one. He knows clowns are just people. He knows that.
"A clown, huh?" His brother pats his leg consolingly. "So what do you want to dress up as?"
Any costume Sam is going to get will be homemade. There's no chance of a store bought costume and Sam understands that just as he understands that Dean has never dressed up for Halloween, at least not in Sammy's memory and he's pretty sure he would remember his brother in a costume. In fact, the only reason Sammy even knows that Halloween means costumes and candy is from his school friends. But Dean seems to be enjoying the conversation and there's nothing else to do so Sammy continues. "Well, I was thinking I could be Superman." He says, voice rising excitedly. "All I'd need is a red cape and I could wear my blue shirt and put a big 'S' on it."
"Yeah, and tights. We'd have to get you some tights from the little girl section of the Salvation Army." Dean smirks and then ducks his head when Sammy throws the spare pillow at him. "Hey, hey careful of the merchandise." He cackles.
Sammy tries to pout for all of two seconds but can't maintain the sour expression when Dean starts up the tickle wars.
After that they eat dinner and watch some TV. It's already dark outside when they hear the key in the lock.
Dean gingerly slips off the bed and Sammy can feel his big brother's annoyance at the bedsprings which squeak despite his caution. He pads softly to the door, stands on his tiptoes to peek through the eyehole. The older boy must be satisfied with what he sees because he steps back and smiles in welcome as the door opens.
"Hey dad…" The words die before they are completely formed and out of his mouth and Sammy's jaw drops as their father shuffles into the room, oblivious of the salt line he has just scattered everywhere. Dad would never disrupt a salt line, it's too much ingrained habit to step over them and after all the times the man has pounded it into his sons' heads Sammy can't imagine their dad slipping up like that unless there is something wrong.
Their dad's head swivels, looking first at Dean who's still standing near the open door, back straight with undisguised tension, and then to Sammy who is sitting cross-legged on the bed. A feral glint, ripe with malice, appears in the hunter's eyes, much worse than the look of shrewd longing stringy-haired man had leveled at them.
To be continued.
A/N: I have a nephew who used to be afraid of anyone dressed up in a mascot costume. Disneyworld was an absolute nightmare for him with all the Disney characters running around. He used to say he knew they were just people dressed up in costumes, but he was still terrified of them. I imagine he understands how Sammy feels about clowns.
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