New Family Traditions
Author: Cheryl W.
Disclaimer: I do not own any characters or any rights to Supernatural or Dark Angel, nor am I making any profit from this story.
Watching Alec stare down at a sleeping Dean, contemplate waking him up, Sam couldn't help but smile at his little brother's eagerness for the start of their Christmas celebration. It brought to mind Dean waking him up that Christmas morning after he had learned the truth about their mom and the family business, how his brother had tried to pretend that their Dad hadn't left them high and dry on Christmas, again. Dean had swiped presents from the nicest house on the block, for him, to give him a Christmas, as close to normal as he could.
Abandoning his last thread of patience, Alec flounced down on the side of the Dean's bed, hard enough to rock the mattress and the unmoving body on it. It invoked a grumble and then the appearance of a hand pushing back the covers.
Looking over his shoulder at the trespasser on his bed, Dean blinked away sleep, slurred, "Time is it?"
"Morning," Alec unhelpfully supplied, his smile brighter than the weak light slipping in through the cabin's curtains. Giving a pat to Dean's leg, he bade, "Rise and shine. It's Christmas."
"What are you, four?" Dean grumbled and intended to roll back over, resume his sleep. Might have if his covers weren't suddenly yanked off him.
"Hey!" he protested, began to sit up, was considering shoving Alec off his bed. Until Alec presented him with a mug and the smell of coffee wafted in the air. Reaching for the coffee cup instead of his brother's throat, Dean sat up, registered Sam's presence on the other side of his bed, already dressed. "I miss reveille or something?"
"Get dressed and then we can exchange our gifts," Alec said, standing up and throwing a clean shirt to Dean.
"What? We're not doing breakfast first?" Dean nearly whined, earning a chuckle from Sam and an exasperated sigh from Alec.
"We'll eat afterward," Alec dictated, snapping his fingers and pointing the bathroom to motivate Dean.
Crawling out of bed, Dean grumbled under his breath as he trudged to the bathroom, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, "When you said I was allowed to have fun in life, you never said it had to start this early in the day."
An hour later, after Dean had beautified and they had gotten a fire blazing in the fireplace, the three brothers claimed positions by the hearth. Then a stilted silence fell and they traded looks between them, like a gun fight at dawn, wondering who would go first.
"Here," they proclaimed at the same time, each presenting a gift to one another. A round of chuckles followed before Dean waved to Alec, beckoning him to go first.
Looking almost nervous, Alec handed over a small box to Dean. As Dean took his present in hand, Alec's eyes never strayed from Dean's face, watched his brother's every facial tick as he opened the box. He could only breathe again when he marked the surprise and pleasure on Dean's face.
Taking the keychain embossed with "Chevy Impala" from the box, Dean ran his finger over his new treasure before he treated Alec to an elated smile. "Something worthy of my babe. It's awesome, Alec."
"Good," Alec smiled back, relieved that he hadn't messed up, that he hadn't misunderstood the whole Christmas gift giving idea. Well at least not when it came to Dean. But now Sam…he wasn't at all sure that his gift for Sam wasn't a colossal mistake. Hoped that Sam didn't open the gift and then look at him in disgust, like he should have known that someone raised their whole life to be a soldier, who was more equipped to eliminate a target rather than to be kind, would be clueless how pick out something nice to give as a gift.
"This…this is for you," Alec offered, chagrined that his trepidation was so evident but Sam smiled as he took the bag. And Sam's pleasure only grew when he saw what was inside.
"A soccer ball!" Sam exclaimed, pulling out the ball and deftly using his long fingers to bounce it from one hand to the other. "I haven't played since I've was a kid."
Misinterpreting Sam's statement, Alec hurriedly offered, reaching out for the ball, "I knew it was all wrong, that we have no use for it. I'll get you something else."
But Sam pulled the ball out of Alec's reach like a spoiled ten year kid, "Na un," he forbade. "Touch my present and die."
"He means it," Dean warned teasingly. "Trust me, Sammy is not good at sharing his toys."
"No, I'm not," Sam stated, not even bothering to deny it. Then he turned appreciative eyes on Alec. "Alec, thanks for this. I love it. Now…" he put the ball down and picked up a grocery bag and handed it to Alec, "It's kinda lame….I was going to get you something more but my shopping time was limited today…."
Alec opened the bag and laughed as he pulled out the gallon jug of milk. Raising his eyes to Sam, his brother's steady perceptive gaze told him that Sam was aware that he sometimes shortchanged his Tryptophan doses so they would last longer, cost their family less. It was Sam's way of saying, his sacrifice was noted, but there was no way Sam was going to let him suffer for it. Not if he could help it. "Something that keeps this fine body running on all cylinders isn't lame, not at all," Alec returned, all smiles.
Sam smiled, nodded. And then he handed a grocery bag to Dean, was already smiling because this gift, it was a no brainer. Opening the bag, Dean retrieved the container inside and then his eyes sparkled as they met Sam's. "Ah, Sammy. You finally remembered the pie."
"When have I ever forgotten the pie?" Sam protested but he was grinning widely, loved the way Dean was already salivating over the pie in his hand. And the gift exchange might have come to a halt if Sam didn't snag the pie out of Dean's hand and restrict, "Later," as he sat the dessert by the fireplace.
His eyes darting to his pie one more time, Dean then handed Alec a brown bag, watched as Alec pulled out the tube of hair gel, enjoyed Alec's slow smile.
"You've been mocking my spiked hair but secretly you've been coveting it, haven't you. Thought if you get me my favorite hair gel I might be inclined to share, show you how to look as good as I do," Alec teased, touched that Dean even took notice to what brand he preferred, let alone realized that he fresh out of it.
"You keep telling yourself that, Mr. Delusional," Dean shot back, didn't need to tell Alec that his evil twin hadn't been so good with the hair products, that, after the fact, he knew he should have noticed that first, might have saved himself some heartache…or brought it on sooner. He was about to hand Sam's gift to him when Alec reached out, stopped the presses.
"Thanks," Alec earnestly offered, glad that Dean wasn't mocking him for his primping, for caring about his appearance. Manticore had not valued those traits. Manticore wanted its soldiers pretty enough to bait the trap, but didn't want them to be self-conscious of their beauty, wanted them to be an enticing shell, with all armor underneath.
"You're welcome," Dean returned with a gentle smirk before he tossed a small bag to Sam, who deftly caught it. Balancing the light bag, Sam gave Dean a 'is there anything in here' look before his hand dug inside. When he retrieved a hair brush, his eyes instantly snapped up to Dean in wonder.
At Sam's look, Dean explained, "I know you lost your favorite brush when Manticore burned out our motel room…" 'Not to mention I nearly lost you….'
"I've been looking for a replacement….thanks, Dean," Sam replied, couldn't believe Dean was actually enabling the style of his supposedly, 'girl like locks'.
"Ah, Dean envies your hair too, Sammy," Alec couldn't help but taunt, wasn't quick enough to dodge the playful swat Dean landed to the back of his head. He was still rubbing it when Dean held out an envelope to him, a seriousness in his oldest brother's eyes that made him a bit loath to accept the envelope.
"It's from both of us," Dean announced, shaking his hand a little, like dangling the envelope on a line would snag a fish named Alec.
Nervously, Alec joked, "Should I be worried?" eyes shooting from Dean to Sam even as he made no move to take the envelope. Sam's tender smile tamed his racing heart as did his brother's quiet, patient urging, "Open it up and find out."
Torn between apprehension and excitement, Alec took the envelope, carefully broke the seal and looked inside. His brow creased at the sight of the single folded piece of paper that he found inside. Pulling the paper free, he unfolded it, instantly recognized Dean's handwriting and then the words registered:
IOU for another Tattoo to add to your collection
The words soon blurred as Alec's eyes filled and his heart swelled. He dove out of his chair, engulfed Dean in a hug before his brother even registered he was on the move. "Thank you," he emotionally exhaled, knew that Dean had been the last holdout, that somewhere along the line, somehow, his brother had changed his mind. Then he released Dean, moved onto Sam.
Sam was prepared enough to return Alec's hug, heard his brother's quiet, "Thanks for working on Dean to let me get this," but before he could refute Alec's assumption, Alec reclaimed his seat in his chair, was busy holding the handwritten note in his hands as if it were made of gold.
Exchanging a look with Sam, Dean cleared his throat, knew that it was on him to make things clear for Alec. "Sam said it was your choice, to live this life, to stay with us…" hesitated as Alec's wide eyes flew to his. "…and he was right. It is." And there was a question there in Dean's tone, in his eyes as they rested on Alec. Because, part of Dean still couldn't believe that Alec would willingly chose their lives, would chose to stay with them. Who in their right mind would?
But Alec's answer was glaringly evident in his joyous smile. "You think there's a tattoo parlor in town?" he eagerly asked, would suggest they break in that day so his brothers could do the honors if he had any faith in either of their artistic abilities.
Correctly fearing that if he said 'yes', Alec would start herding them for the door right then, Sam hedged, "Didn't look like a tattoo kind of place to me."
"'Sides its Christmas and I'm not spending it with some sweaty tattooed guy sketching something from off my chest," Dean piped in, left unsaid, 'Nope. I'm spending Christmas with my family.' And he couldn't imagine that anyone could have a better family than he did, or that anyone was having a Christmas that could rival his. Flipping open the pie box, he pulled out the knife from his back pocket and cut three slices. "Now we eat," he announced, before picking up a piece of pie and nodded to his brothers to take the other slices.
Sam made no move to claim his pie slice, instead he tilted his head, gave his brother a wary stare. "Dean, you have never offered to share your pie. Who are you and what have you done with my brother?"
"Shud up," Dean volleyed back, waited until his brothers each had slices of pie in hand before he partook of his gift. He moaned in pleasure around the gooey slice of heaven.
"Guess watching the game's out," Sam surmised, taking another bite while giving the cabin an obvious once over search for the non-existent television.
Swallowing the last of his pie slice, Dean bent over and grabbed the soccer ball. "Let's see how good you are Pelé," he challenged Sam as he came to his feet. Sam stood too.
"Who's Pelé?" Alec pretended to innocently ask, added for insult purposes, "Does he do those Taco Bell commercials?" causing groans to erupt from both of his brothers.
"Come on," Dean urged, reaching a hand out to aid his wounded brother to his feet.
Looking up to Dean, Alec prompted, "Thought I was sidelined because of my leg?" but there was hope in his tone.
"So we'll bounce the balls off your head. You getting more brain damage than what you already have isn't really gonna make much of a difference," Dean teased as Alec put his hand in his. Carefully, he pulled Alec to his feet and handed Alec his walking stick.
"I'll have you know my head's…." Alec began to boast but Sam interjected, "Almost as hard as Dean's? I've already figured that out."
Sam loved the twin green glares that sizzled into him. "Now I don't want any crying when I humiliate you with my awesome athletic prowess," he taunted as he started for the door.
Patiently keeping pace with Alec as they followed in Sam's wake, Dean muttered under his breath to Alec, "This from the guy who lost his shoe in the sewer…"
"I was cursed Dean!" Sam protested, turning around.
"Excuses, excuses," Dean sing-songed, making a stirring motion with his finger indicating that Sam should turn around and head out the door, which Sam did but not before he huffed out an exaggerated breath of air.
And it was as Alec watched his brothers kick the soccer ball through snow, he knew that, his brothers weren't normal, any more than he was. What his family was, was extraordinary. Not because of the jobs they did, the people they saved, the lives they lived. No, they were extraordinary because, through all their many heartbreaks, they still had compassion, still believed in the strength of love, in the value of family. 'Even when that family is a scientific experiment,' he qualified with a smile.
Remembering Dom's prayer, that the man believed that God would care about him, even if he wasn't solely of His creation, it left Alec wondering if God had known that he needed saving and had sent his brothers to him in that Seattle jail. And maybe his brothers had needed saving too. Maybe that was their true gift to one another: to save each other. As often and for as long as it took.
"Heads up!" Dean shouted, worried that Alec was too distracted to see the ball arching through the air.
But Alec deftly head butted the ball, sent it spinning across the makeshift goal line. "That the best you got?" Alec taunted, using his walking stick to limp into the 'playing field.' "You know you just got bested by a one legged man?"
"One lousy goal and he thinks he's ready to ditch us and go pro," Dean shot back, sending a conspiring look to Sam.
Alec's reply was surprisingly earnest. "I'm not going to ditch you," he vowed 'not for anything in the world.' But a moment later, he stipulated aloud, "Well, not for anything less than a ten million a year contract. I have my standards, after all." And his standards, they were awesome, because, if he had to do it all over again, he would still spend his first Christmas with his brothers, and his second and his third and his fiftieth. No matter how many Christmases he celebrated in his life, there would never be anywhere else that he would rather be than with the people he loved most.
Thanks for reading this story and spending some of your holiday with me! You made my season brighter with your wonderful reviews!