A/N1: This entire fic was an excuse to push me past my writer's block on a slightly longer fic I'm trying to finish. It worked, sorta. I managed to get about half-way through the other fic (which won't be posted until sometime after Christmas because it's a gift to a beloved family member).
A/N2: Based on the below prompt from the hoodie_time A Winter/Holiday themed Dean-focused h/c comment-fic meme (themed comment-fic meme #3) on Livejournal: hoodie - time[dot]livejournal[dot]com[slash]523649[dot]html
It's the ugliest star in creation, but it was ten cents at the store and Sam loves it, so John puts it on the top of their crappy little Christmas tree.
Too bad Dean made fun of it. Now he's the only one who can see that star's malevolent twinkle. And now he's got a fever and he feels like hammered dog shit, and he knows that damn crappy star is cursed. He's gonna burn that tree down or die trying. If Dad and Sammy would just get out of the way.
Dean couldn't believe he'd let his brother badger him into going shopping only a few days before Christmas. He really was not in the mood for this. The bright lights of the thrift store combined with his little brother's exuberance caused his slight headache to flare.
Sammy examined the shelves, considering each item very carefully, his little face serious as he weighed this important decision. He finally settled on an old, ugly, dented metal star Christmas tree topper.
"Sammy, that thing looks like ass. Wrinkly, flabby, old-man ass. Don't waste money on that piece of junk." Dean towered over his brother, wielding all his nine-year-old authority.
"But Deeeean. I like it. And the tag says 10. Dad told me I could spend 50 and this is way less." Sam clasped the battered star to his breast like it was a treasured possession. And there were those damn puppy eyes again. World's best ammo.
"Fine. I guess ten cents isn't that much. But I'm warning you, Dad'll never put that shitty-looking thing on the tree."
"Dean! You said shit!"
"Yeah, so? Don't you dare tell Dad." Dean used his most threatening glare.
"So I can get it? Yay! I won't tell. I promise." And Sam skipped his way to the thrift store's check-out counter with his hideous prize. Dean followed, rubbing his throbbing head.
Dad totally did not react the way Dean expected. He oohed over the thing like Sammy had brought home a friggin' Picasso.
Dean tried to make his dad see reason. "Dad, that thing sucks. It's a stupid piece of junk. Can't we just cut a beer can into a star like we did last year?"
"Dean, this is your brother's contribution to Christmas. We're using it."
"Dean, stow it."
Dad paused for a second, his eyes watching Dean worriedly. "You look a little pale, dude. Are you feeling okay?"
"Yeah, Dad. I'm fine. It's just a little headache."
His dad's brow furrowed briefly, but he nodded and turned back to Sammy and his treasured purchase. His dad lifted Sammy up and let him put that nasty thing on top of their Charlie Brown tree. Then they smiled and chattered about how beautiful the tree was and how that damn star made it feel like a real Christmas. Dean thought he would be sick listening to them. He slumped into the room's one armchair and sulked, reviewing all the cuss words he knew over and over again in his head to make himself feel better. Yeah, it was childish, but he didn't care.
And as Sammy started a thrilling round of "Oh Christmas Tree", Dean could've sworn he saw that starry hunk of metal shimmer.
That night he tossed and turned more than he actually slept. Just as he'd feel himself slipping off into sleep, a light would flash behind his eyelids and jolt him awake again. He got up a couple of times to look around for the source of the light, but he found nothing.
By morning, he was tired and grumpy. The headache was growing behind his eyes, and he felt a little... off. And the twinkling! He kept catching it out of the corner of his eye. It was like that blasted star was toying with him! He kept trying to catch it in the act.
"Guess what, Dean? At school yesterday, Tommy said we're not gonna get any presents 'cause we don't got no chimney for Santa to come down. Tommy says Santa only brings presents to kids that gots chimneys. Is that true, Dean? Well, is it? Dean? Deeeaaan. Hey, Dean!" Sammy had been chattering all day, and Dean was only half-listening until Sammy poked his big brother to get his attention.
"Can Santa come visit us if we don't got a chimney? We're s'posedta have a chimney so he can come down with presents."
"I don't know, Sammy. Maybe he comes in through the door. Now leave me alone."
"I dunno Dean. Tommy says we gots ta have a chimney. He knows. He talks to Santa in the store every year! Dean, how does Santa know where we are if we move alla time?"
"Geez, Sammy, give it a rest! Go watch TV or something. I'm busy." Dean continued trying to catch the star red-handed.
"What're you doing, Dean?"
Flicker. There it was! Dean was sure he saw it that time! "I'm watching the star."
Sam paused for a few seconds, studying the star intently before turning back to his brother. "Watchin' it do what?"
Flicker twinkle. That time he was looking at it full-on! "That! Did you see that?"
Sammy obediently put his eyes back on the tree topper, his forehead crinkling in concentration. He waited there beside his brother, holding his breath in anticipation of whatever was supposed to happen.
Flicker flicker sparkle flash. "That! You saw that, didn't you?"
Sammy just turned confused eyes on his brother. "I didna see nuthin', Dean. What'd it do?"
Flash flash twinkle. "You're kidding me! You didn't see it light up? Friggin' thing's playing with me."
Sammy's little forehead crinkles deepened. "Dean, it's a Christmas ormamet. Ormamets aren't alive. They can't play with you."
"Shows what you know!"
They were interrupted by the sound of the key in the lock and their dad entering the room carrying dinner. Sammy practically pounced on him. "Dad, Dean thinks the star's alive! Is it?"
"That's ridiculous, Sammy. Dean, what are you telling him?"
"It's the truth, Dad. It keeps flashing. I think it's possessed or cursed or something." Flicker flicker FLASH. "See?"
"See what? Dean, this isn't funny. Now come eat."
"But Dad! The star! It was..." Dean took the hint, closing his mouth with a snap when Dad's face hardened. This was a battle he knew he wouldn't win.
The constant pulsing of the light bored into him even when his eyes were closed, making his eyes burn and his head throb. After another restless night, Dean's headache had grown to a steady pounding in his skull. His vision tunneled until everything around was hazy... that is, except for that tree, which glimmered with an other-worldly glow from the star crowning its peak. On top of that, he was starting to feel the star's light touch his skin, causing it to tingle and crawl.
The worst part was that no one believed him. He'd stopped trying to convince his dad and Sam. They didn't see it. They didn't understand how evil the thing was! He knew, though, and he had to protect his family.
Unfortunately, Dad caught him twice trying to sneak the tree-topper out of the motel room. Both times, he gently took the star from Dean's hands, put it back on the tree, and tucked Dean into bed. Bed! Like he was some kid. His dad watched him, his eyes filled with concern, like he was looking at a crazy person. He pushed fluids and medicine on Dean, felt his forehead often, and dragged a chair up to Dean's bedside to police his every move. It was annoying... more than that, it was insulting! Dean knew he wasn't crazy.
Dean tried to wave his father away. When that didn't work, he pretended to be asleep and waited for his dad's misplaced focus to move somewhere else. And he waited. And waited. Geez, would his dad ever leave?
Finally, his dad went out for supplies, leaving Sammy behind to watch Dean. The little runt insisted on sitting next to Dean on the bed and entertaining Dean with stories about his latest adventures in Kindergarten. All the while, that cursed tree topper flashed and twinkled its evil light into the room. Who knew what horrible things it was doing to Dean and his family!
When Sammy's constant stream of chatter slowed and eventually stopped, Dean held his breath, waiting for the inevitable. Sure enough, his little brother soon slid down beside him, his breaths deepening as sleep claimed him.
Dean saw his opportunity. He'd have to be quick and very, very quiet. He had to protect his family from the evil tree-topper from Hell, whether or not they believed they were in danger!
John hurried to gather his purchases and head back to the Impala. He hated leaving Dean practically alone in his condition, but he saw no other alternative. His son's fever had reached new highs, requiring more appropriate medicine. Their usual tactic of treating ailments with a little aspirin just wasn't cutting it.
In hindsight, he wished he hadn't allowed the boys to go out shopping a couple of days ago. Unfortunately, he hadn't realized just how sick Dean was or he would have monitored his boy's illness sooner. Dean's obsession with Sammy's little star had him exceedingly worried. The boy actually thought the harmless little decoration was evil. That just showed how very sick Dean was.
As he pulled into the motel parking lot, his heart slammed into his throat. The motel room door stood wide open! John hastily parked the car and ran into the room. Panicked, he scanned the room, eyes searching. He immediately noted two things: First, Sammy sound asleep in the boys' shared bed, no sign of Dean;, second, empty spot where the tree used to be, a few pine needles and makeshift ornaments the only evidence that it had ever been there.
John raced outside, his hunter's senses on alert. He followed the trail of pine needles and the smell of smoke around the back of the building. The bonfire burning there reached impressive heights, most likely assisted by the lighter fluid in his young boy's hand. Dean swayed on his feet by the fire, obviously only staying upright by sheer force of will.
John stepped closer and rested a hand on his boy's shoulder. Dean looked up at his dad, his feverish eyes shining eerily in the orange light of the flames. A tired grin spread across his pale face.
"Don't worry, Dad. You and Sammy are safe now." Then his eyes rolled back into his head as his legs collapsed under him. John caught his son as he fell, fever-heat radiating from Dean's burning skin.
"You did great, Dean. Now it's my turn to take care of you." With Dean securely in his arms, he turned his back on the blaze, leaving the tree and its ill-fated star topper to burn themselves out.
John's little family might end up spending Christmas in the hospital before this illness had run its course, but at least Dean could rest easy knowing he'd saved his family from unspeakable evil. John clutched his amazing son tighter.