A New Toy
Summary: A shopping trip to the mall with Sam reminds Dean that there's more to their lives than hunting & a spur of the moment purchase continues to heal any leftover rift between the brothers as Sam is reminded that his brother can still surprise him. Brotherly moments abound.
Tags/Spoilers: Not really tagged to anything. May have mentions of events up to Like A Virgin and from previous seasons.
Warnings: Maybe for a couple bad words.
Disclaimer: I don't own the boys or anything to do with the show. This is just for entertainment.
A/N: I decided after nearly four days of writing constant angst and drama that I'd try something a little lighter…which isn't easy. I hope everyone enjoys it.
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"I hate shopping, I hate shopping…I so hate shopping."
After a full day of scouring the two floor shopping mall for various things that he and Sam needed to restock supplies on top of the list of things that Bobby had asked them to pick up on their way back, Dean Winchester was ready to gouge his eyes out if he didn't get back to his beloved 1967 Chevy Impala.
Of course first he had to locate his little brother is this concrete jungle of stores, noise and people. To make better time, the Winchesters had agreed to split up and meet in the food court. Well, Dean had allowed that meeting time to run over but when his normally time obsessed brother hadn't made an appearance after forty-five minutes he'd begun to worry.
This was one of the few times since Death had put Sam's soul back in a few weeks ago that his brother had spent more than ten minutes away from him and considering that they were facing now and how fragile that wall was in Sam's mind, Dean decided to go looking for him.
"I swear I am so lojacking that kid," Dean muttered sourly, reminding himself to update the GPS on his phone so he could find Sam's phone easier again. Briefly considering the mall itself, he gazed at the map before pinpointing the best spot to start looking for his brother.
Electronic and bookstores had always been the best choices to look for Sam before…back when his brother had been younger and without all the worries he had now.
Dean knew if his brother once had any true passions it was tech toys and books. Sam had loved to read from the moment Dean had first taught him to understand words in a book. Dean had lost count of the books his little brother had read as a kid but there were a few that Sam treasured enough that he tried to keep them with him and when their Dad would move them too fast that packing everything wasn't possible Dean had always tried to replace those for his brother.
As Sam got older his love of books remained but he also developed a passion for electronics. Anything electronically driven his brother adored and Dean never denied that Sam was a whiz with the stuff, even now, even after all he'd been through, the kid could still do more on a computer than Dean could dream of doing.
Noticing that there was both a bookstore and an electronic store close together, Dean rolled his eyes while mentally flipping a coin to decide which he'd check first when a glance in the electronics store made up his mind.
A perky little clerk with an ultra bright smile was trying to look up at Sam while jabbering all the high-tech details of whatever it was he was examining with an equally bright look in his eyes as he seemed to be understanding every word the clerk was saying.
Dean watched for a moment longer. It had been a long time since he could recall seeing that much joy and expression on Sam's face that he almost hated to break it up.
"Hey, Geekboy," wandering up, he noticed the way Sam would still jump at unexpected sounds but shrugged that off since he knew the kid was still working through getting his soul back and dealing with more memories than Dean wanted him to have. "I thought we agreed to meet in the food court fifty minutes ago."
Blinking in surprise, Sam glanced at his watch and there was no doubt to Dean that his brother had no clue that he'd been late so before the expected apology could come Dean waved it off by glancing at the flat little thing in Sam's hands.
"What's this and what's it do?" he asked, giving the clerk a smile but his eyes were on his brother and caught the brightness in his eyes as he began to explain about the gadget.
"It's an e-reader, Dean," Sam gave a typical eyeroll that still made Dean's year just to see it since he'd missed that common habit his brother had while Robo-Sam was in control. "You read books on it."
Considering the comment that was on the tip of his tongue that only his little brother could find a gadget that combined both his geekboy habits but he stopped himself since he knew that Sam still had trouble gauging when he was serious or kidding these days. "You…read a book on that little thing?" he looked at the flat piece of plastic in doubt before lifting an eyebrow in disbelief. "How many? One at a time?"
Sam's laugh was without restraint; as if he wasn't thinking about it for once, which was something else Dean had missed. "No, you can actually hold over five thousand books on here. You download them as you want them or it can come preloaded with titles you pick from the computer," he explained then sighed as if reality was setting in. "I was just killing time and thought I'd take a look at it. I was going to check the bookstore but…who has time for that these days. Did you get the stuff?"
Easily recognizing the way Sam was trying to change the subject, Dean also saw the dejected look in his brother's eyes when he handed the e-reader back to the disappointed clerk. A quick mental debate and one final look at Sam made Dean's mind up for him as he shook his head, shoving Bobby's list at him, "I can't figure out what the hell he wants on here," he complained sourly. "That place has too many wart roots so go find what Bobby wants while I go grab something to eat."
"He wants Angelica root, Dean," Sam chided but took the list, gave the clerk a final smile and headed out to the herb and specialty store. "I'll meet you by the burger stand."
"Hotdogs, Sammy!" Dean shouted at his back but grinned at the wave he got in return before he turned to eye the clerk. "Okay, give me the layman's spiel for this thing and dumb it down because I'm not as tech savvy as my little brother there."
Eyes lighting up for a possible sale, the girl once again gave her sales pitch but this time used the one she normally would since she'd rarely encountered a shopper who knew as much about electronics as that tall young man had. In fact he had taught her a few things.
This man, she had to admit she was thrilled to be talking to two of the most handsomest men in the store all day, didn't seem to grasp everything she said but he picked up on the key points but more importantly she noticed he seemed to care what the other man, his younger brother he'd said, would want.
"So, this thing is internet ready too?" he was still looking at the e-reader skeptically but had moved on to the more advanced version. "And he can download books to it and read like a normal book?"
"Yes, sir," she replied, dimples winking as she pointed to a computer. "Your brother can purchase e-books from his computer and download them via USB or purchase and download directly through the e-reader," she explained, showing him just a few selections. "The machine will hold around five thousand titles though I don't know anyone who'd read that much."
"You don't know Sammy," Dean laughed, figuring in his life that his brother had brother read over that when something occurred to him. "If I bought this thingey, can you check if some books are available and then put them on here so it'd be ready to go?"
Surprised since very few customers actually used that service, she nodded happily. "If you know the titles or authors then I can look for you."
Reaching for his wallet, Dean carefully removed a tattered and yellowing sheet of paper that he'd still add to now and then. "These were his favorites and he lost 'em in a…fire. So if you could find a few of these I'd appreciate it."
"Your brother has some really wicked reading selections," the clerk considered the list while typing it in. "Is it his birthday or something?" she asked, blushing when Dean looked at her curiously. "Sorry. I just figured it must be something since most brothers wouldn't go to this trouble or expense these days."
Considering that, Dean tried to remember the last time he had done something special or even nice for Sam and came up blank. He recalled taking Sam shopping right after Jessica was killed and he needed clothes and he did have to buy Sam a new laptop after that one little incident but he really couldn't remember a time that he'd bought Sam something fun or for the hell of it.
"Sammy's had a hard time lately and I could tell he wanted this so…" Dean finally shrugged, offering a smile that was actually relaxed and making his final decision. "Upload whatever you find and hit me with the total, sweetheart."
A half an hour later, Dean makes it to the food court with enough time to spare to order a couple hotdogs with nearly every condiment that he could think to put on it and was making sure his new purchase was carefully concealed in another bag when Sam finally sat down in the seat across from him. "Did you get whatever root Bobby wanted?"
"How can you not remember Angelica root, Dean? We work with Castiel," Sam scoffed, eyeing the gross looking fastfood before giving his brother an automatic bitch face. "Those look disgusting."
"The look isn't as important as the taste, little brother," Dean tossed back, even though he had to admit he might have gone overboard on a few of those toppings. "C'mon, I need fresh air and you need to sleep because you're gonna get cranky soon."
Wondering if Dean would've said that to him a mere month ago before he had a soul again and could understand that it was his brother's way of both being overprotective and sarcastic, Sam shot his brother another bitch face but grinned slightly as he got in the Impala. "We leaving tonight?"
That had been Dean's plan since he still didn't like staying in one spot too long but now that he'd noticed had tired Sam seemed and not wanting to put pressure on the Great Wall of Sam he was changing his mind. "Nah, I think we'll stay the night and head for Bobby's tomorrow afternoon." he replied, seeing Sam nod before leaning his head on the window and closing his eyes. "You feeling okay, Sammy?"
"Yeah, just got too tired I guess," Sam murmured without looking over but Dean knew this kid too well and could guess what was causing the mood change but let it go for the moment.
At the Hotel, later that night:
Hearing the shower switch off and giving it the correct time to hear his brother's razor start, Sam pulled out the brochure for the e-reader he'd been looking at to go over the details again and for what he figured was the twentieth time allowed himself to wish for it.
It had been a long time since he'd wished for something and decided to see what it would take to make this wish a reality. He knew he still had some cash left at the place he'd stayed at with the Campbells but he'd need to check how far in the hole they were before he used that on something for himself.
"You'd call Bobby and tell him we'd be late?" Dean called from the bathroom as he finished shaving and reached for a clean shirt.
Shoving the brochure into his duffel bag, Sam flopped back on the bed to debate on checking on some leads on the computer or slacking off for the night when Dean went to grab dinner. "Yeah. I actually think he was sorta glad of that since he was having…dinner with Sheriff Mills…again."
"Oh, God. The imagery, Sammy, stop with the damn imagery because I will never get that one outta my head," Dean groaned, scrubbing his face as he walked out of the bathroom with his leather jacket slung over one shoulder in a way that took Sam back years. "So, what do you want for dinner?" he asked casually, reaching for the keys to the Impala. "I'm buying."
Sam laughed without thinking about it since those were memories that still made him smile. "Whatever you want is, Dean," he remarked, opening one eye to gaze at his brother seriously for a moment. "Just don't get arrested this time because I doubt if the fake 911 call would work and Bobby would kill if he had to come up here to bail us outta jail."
"I let myself get arrested that time to give you a chance to get clear, Sammy," Dean wondered if his voice shook as much as it felt like his hands were as Sam replied to his teasing because he honestly hadn't expected him to recall their first case back together. Curiosity had Dean pause by the door just as Sam rolled on his bed toward him, eyes light.
"Hey, got a question," Sam noticed that Dean was waiting so he just went on, swallowing his nerves. "You still running credit card scams?"
Glad his back was toward his brother, Dean closed his eyes to hide the burn he felt before coughing to make certain his voice was even. "Yeah, well hunting still ain't a proball career, little brother. Hang loose and I'll grab something."
Dean was able to wait until he got to the Impala to release the shaky breath he'd been holding, his emotions churning at that exchange since he'd always tried to avoid reminding Sam too much of when things had still been pretty good. Having him toss back words they'd bantered six years earlier nearly broke his own rule against chick-flick moments.
He'd seen a diner downtown earlier in the week that he'd been getting stuff from but tonight he decided to switch up and surprise Sam with something else…especially when he wanted to stall a little.
The fancy restaurant that served take-out was busy, which he'd expected, so after looking over the menu, making his choices and settling down to wait he pulled his cell-phone out to call his brother, who he figured was probably overworking his laptop on something.
"Tell me you really didn't get arrested," Sam's voice was wary when he picked up on the first ring and automatically closed the browser window he'd been looking at.
"Ha-ha, very funny, Sam," Dean rolled his eyes since he knew that was expected to while shooting the hostess a smile. "No, this place is packed so I might be awhile," he told his brother, waiting a beat to add. "Oh and while you're waiting for me and food to get back, try to give that laptop a break."
Scowling as if his brother could see him, Sam hated that Dean could see right through him. "I'm just checking on a couple things Bobby mentioned that might lead us to this 'Mother of All' thing or…"
"Go snooping in my duffel then, Geekboy. There's something on top for you," Dean broke in easily, tapping his fingers nervously on the bar where he was waiting. "Sammy…I…welcome home."
Frowning at the abrupt end to the call and confused by how strained his brother sounded, Sam stared at the mentioned duffel bag for a moment before his more curious side won out and he unzipped it to find a thin package wrapped in newspaper…their usual way to wrap stuff for each other.
More confused by this, Sam took the gift out carefully to run his hands over it while considering what could have brought this on. His brother was good at remembering birthdays and Christmas…usually but he rarely broke down and gave Sam something without a reason.
Feeling the lightness of the package, Sam assumed it was probably one of Dean's practical jokes until he tore the first strip of paper off and nearly dropped the box. Sitting down heavily on Dean's bed, he quickly removed the rest of the paper to stare at the advanced e-reader box with a note in his brother's handwriting stuck to the front of it.
Taking the note first, Sam felt his eyes mist until he scrubbed a fist over them to see what was written and was forced to swallow as he read it.
'Hey, Sammy. Don't go getting all geeked out or girly on me over this. Once Brandi, that was the name of cute little clerk who'd spent all day checking you out by the way, explained it to me I figured it would give that laptop a break. Plus it'd be easier to haul this around than all the books you used to want to pack up. She said it was ready to go and don't make one smart remark about my book choices, little brother or I swear you will so wake up bald one day.
'I'm sorry that you thought you couldn't have just asked for it, Sam or if you thought you couldn't just buy it because you know that I've always tried to get you what you wanted when I possibly could. I know this won't make up for all the hell I've put you through lately and it's not meant to. I bought it for the same reason I'd buy you those stupid science fiction books you loved so much…because my little brother wanted it.'
Wiping his face free of the tears that had come while he'd been reading, Sam's next move was to actually hold the e-reader. It was the much more advanced one than what he'd been looking at so he held it like glass while switching it on and dreading to see what his brother had picked out as suitable reading material.
"Oh, no way," he breathed, attention now fully locked on the list of titles that had been purchased and loaded onto the machine. Titles that he recalled from his teenage years, of books that he'd read and lost or that had been destroyed in the fire at Stanford. Noticing that someone had taken the time to put the books into collections based on authors, he swallowed when he saw that his favorite science fiction series, with every single title up to the latest one, had been added as well.
With shaking hands, Sam chose a random book to open just to see how it really looked and wasn't aware of when he laughed at how easily the words came up or how much easier it was to read.
So intently engrossed in the story, Sam never heard the Impala return an hour later. Nor did he hear the key in the motel room door, or the plastic bags that were dumped on the small kitchen table. His stomach rumbled at the smell of Italian food but even that didn't take his eyes away from the story. Nothing did until a hand finally, gently, landed on the back of his neck to squeeze it in a familiar way that for the first time since waking up at Bobby's with a soul again, he didn't jump in surprise.
"I guess I didn't screw up the selections too bad then?" Dean asked calmly after having stood by the bed to watch Sam completely zone out the rest of the world.
Normally, he'd lecture Sam on the need to always be aware of his surroundings but this night Dean didn't and never planned on it. Though the moment he caught sight of large puppy dog eyes n liquid hazel staring up at him, he sighed because he knew his no chick-flick rule was about to get destroyed. Not that he'd bitch about that considering that when Sam was without a soul, Dean would've given anything to have one of these moments.
"How'd…how'd you remember the books?" Sam asked, fighting not to break the rule he'd grown up following but it was hard right then since it had been so long since he could remember having something done for him without strings attached.
"I bought most of those books for you, Sammy. I'd never forget them," Dean sat down on his bed to eye the e-reader warily. "That thing really does work then?"
Laughing in a pure happy way that he hadn't felt like doing in six years, Sam forgot the no chick-flick rule and reached out on instinct…much like he had upon waking this time. "I know I've given you a lot of reasons to hate me over the years, Dean but this is the best gift I've ever gotten…from anyone," he stated, voice shaking but felt himself still at the feel of strong arms returning his hug fully and without comment. "Thanks."
"Been awhile since I got you anything and I recognized the look so I figured it wouldn't hurt," Dean tried to make his tone light but gave up on that the first tear he felt soak through his shirt and he just let his hand rest lightly on Sam's neck much like he would when he'd been younger and needing support. "Besides, I needed to try out that new credit card anyway."
Sam's tearful laugh broke the building uneasiness in the room as he pulled back to wipe his face with the full smile that his brother had been waiting to see. "I'd ask whose name this one was under but I'm too afraid," he replied, letting his new toy go into its sleep mode when finally his stomach reminded him that he'd skipped lunch earlier that day. "They serve Italian food in the diner?"
"No, they serve it at that Italian restaurant in the plaza, Super Geek," Dean snorted, giving his brother a gentle slap to the back of his head which resulted in Sam laughing while he dug into the bags to see what was to eat.
Waiting until he was sure Sam was preoccupied with dinner, Dean took a deep breath before letting it out and gazing at his brother in the way only an older brother who had watched his baby brother grow up could. Eyes softening as he took in old habits Sam had once that were starting to return, Dean smiled before slipping the credit card out of his pocket to place it back in his wallet and wondering what Sammy would think if he knew this card was actually in his own real name for once.
Thankful that at least while he'd been with Lisa for that time without Sam, she'd helped him set up several things that included an actual real credit file and several places that would allow money to grow in case he or Sam ever needed it, Dean pocketed the card. Happier to let Sam think he was still running credit card scams, Dean snatched the one Styrofoam container. "We split the meatballs but you can have all the salad you want."
"Deal," Sam had taken a fork to sample the homemade spaghetti and decided that Dean could have the chicken but he was claiming this for himself. "Dean?"
Pleased with himself that his little brother had gone for the pasta like he'd planned, he dumped his container on a plate while pushing the salad over to Sam along a can of beer. "Yeah?"
"If that wall…if it falls…" Sam toyed in his pasta while trying to say what he'd been worrying about since he had that one slip up. "Will you…I mean…I…"
Sitting his fork and beer down, he reached across to place a firm hand on a shaking wrist to not only stop Sam from trembling but also to give the support he knew he needed right then. "It ain't gonna fall, Sammy because I'm not going to let it," he promised firmly, locking eyes for a long moment before grinning. "Trust me, Sammy. Trust me and we'll get through this. Plus, you have a new toy to play with so stop worrying about things."
"Thanks, Dean," Sam smiled, digging into his dinner and not noticing the way Dean watched him through the meal and on and off the rest of the night until he finally fell asleep reading. "De'n…I…"
Reaching over to take the e-reader out of his sleeping brother's hands, Dean let his fingers card gently through hair that he'd noticed Sam not pushing back as much these days before draping his worn leather jacket over his brother since he didn't want to disturb him by moving the blanket.
"I know, Sam, I know," he murmured, rubbing a shoulder soothingly until he was certain his brother would sleep fully tonight. "I love you too, little brother."
Stretching out on his own bed, Dean flipped through the channels for about an hour before reaching for his phone and after gauging the time in South Dakota and what he could be interrupting hit a speed dial button. "Hey, Bobby. You got a minute or am I interrupting something?" grinning at the growl that he heard on the other end, Dean chuckled and made up the most ridiculous reason to call that he could think of while making sure to keep an eye on Sam and hoping that he could keep that promise. 'G'night, Sammy.'The End