Just a little drabble/short one-shot thingy. Came to me when I was playing with my little sister at the park the other day.
At the age of fourteen, Dean considered himself as much of an adult as his father. He considered Sam as practically his son, and for some reason, that didn't bother him as much as it should've. And so, when he was stitching together his little brother's forehead after a nasty run-in with a low-level demon and running through his head the words John had said to Sam, he decided that today, he would be more of a father to Sam than John ever was.
"It's all my fault, Dean," Sam murmured solemnly as Dean wrapped a bandage around his head. "I deserved this."
Dean immediately bristles. "It is not your fault, don't you ever think that, Sammy. He shouldn't have said those kinds of things to you. You're just a kid, anyway, so I don't see why Dad keeps putting all this shit on your shoulders." Sam just shrugged as if it didn't matter what John had said in the first place.
Dean ruffled his hair and tried to manage a smile, but he was sure Sam could tell that it was forced. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't stop the sad twist of his lips because he wished Sam didn't have to go through this. "Say, how 'bout we go to the park, kiddo?"
He knew he'd finally done something right (even though something right would've been to stand up to John Winchester, but he just didn't have the guts, so maybe he really wasn't as much of an adult as he said he was) when Sam's eyes lit up in a blue-green as bright as the color of the ocean. His smile was even more dazzling, and Dean's own smile lost the sad tilt when Sam's teeth appeared.
"Oh, yes, yes, Dean! I would love to–please!" He was bouncing in his seat on the crappy morel bed, and Dean tried his hardest not to flinch at each creak and crack. If anyone ever tried to have any fun in here, everyone within a mile radius would be able to hear them.
Dean covered the small grimace as he leaned on his hand. His eyes softened at the pure, childish innocence that he was relieved his brother still had, but he had a feeling that this life–hunting–would affect him even more than it had affected Dean. Yeah, Dean had started hunting way before Sam, because he was older, but Sam was practically born into it. He hadn't started right away (John hadn't let Sam start hunting until just a few years ago, afraid Sam "wouldn't be able to protect himself" ( or wouldn't be useful was more like it) until he was older), but this was the only life he knew, and Dean couldn't push away the gut-churning sense that Sam would want to experience something more… normal.
He took a deep breath and pushed those emotions away, because worrying before anything had even happened was irrational. "So, when would you like to go, Sammy?" His jaded green eyes flickered to look at Sam, and he could see by his furrowed eyebrows and worried expression that he knew something was bothering him. He opened his mouth, no doubt ready to drown Dean in questions (that was little Sam, ever-curious and smart as hell. Dean often mused that, if he hadn't been brought into hunting, Sam would've loved to go to college), but Dean held a hand up before he could say anything. "I'm fine."
And that was that. Sam was obedient (for the most part, but he lashed out towards John more than Dean would like) and so he dropped the subject. "I would love to go now–uh, if that's okay with you?" The younger Winchester grinned sheepishly, but his hands fisted in the sheets continuously and it was obvious he was nervous. No, not nervous. Sam was scared.
Just what does Dad do to you, Sammy? Dean thought, but there was a part of him that really didn't want to know. The hand that wasn't holding his head up rested on his little brother's hands, and though he didn't say anything about it, he could see the tension fade out of Sam's hunched shoulders and he looked relieved. "Of course it is. I offered, and I plan to stay with that. Let me just wrap something around those stitches and we can go."
He grabbed the gauze from the first aid kit that they always seemed to need way too often, especially as of late with Sam joining then on their hunts more and more, and wrapped it tightly around Sam's head. Dean didn't miss the small, concealed twitch of Sam's fingers as the pressure was put on it, and instead focused on his little brother's appearance, which was, notably, quite ridiculous. Because of the gauze, half of his hair was pressed down over his eyes to where he had to look up to see, and the top half of his flop of chestnut strands stuck up and out at random angles.
"You look like you just came out of a crazy house," Dean commented honestly, which earned him a light laugh. "No, really. I'll just call you Crazy Scientist Hair from now on, how 'bout that?"
Still laughing, Sam chimed in, "Uh-huh, and I'll call you… jerk. All the time."
"That the best you could come up with?" An eyebrow was raised in challenge, and the younger of the two immediately jumped on it.
"Well if I say it often enough, it'll start getting on your nerves. Just wait, Dea–jerk–and you'll see!" Sam was defensive, maybe a little too enthusiastically, but Dean laughed too, just because he was glad Sam was back to being Sam.
"I'll be sure to hold you to that, Sammy. Now come on, let's get outta here." He heard a grumble of "it's Sam!" and quick footsteps following behind him made him shake his head, but he was feeling light and full of what he supposed was complete happiness. He couldn't remember the last time he'd felt this way–there was normally the ever-lingering feeling of stress and anger, though no matter how deep he dug he just couldn't find it.
It seemed that just being around Sam made him feel like he could do anything. Even if he was the older brother, he had to admit that it was comforting.
Needless to say, the park did each of them more good than they would've expected. Dean felt old and yet so incredibly young as he chased Sam across the grassy hills and over woodchips and plastic play structures. So what if Sam was a bit too old to be going to the park? He was a kid (getting older every day, and it was scary how fast he was growing) all the same, and just being outside caused the anxiousness and the fear to be washed from his innocent eyes.
"Can we get a kite sometime?" Sam asked, those pure blue-green eyes sparkling with interest. "Maybe like that one?" He pointed to a kite that looked mysteriously like an angel, its black and white wings fluttering in the cool breeze of spring.
Dean just smiled softly and shrugged. "Maybe," he replied. "You should ask Santa once Christmas comes around."
"Dean, you know I don't believe in Santa anymore…"
His mouth just dropped open. "What? Since when?" Sam didn't believe in Santa anymore? But he was just a little kid! He shouldn't have found out until he was at least twelve!
Sam looked like he wanted to roll his eyes, but he refrained from doing so. "You told me like a year or two ago." He ignored Dean as his mouth dropped open even further. "Do you think angels are real?"
"I definitely didn't tell you that," the older Winchester muttered under his breath, but his attention was captured immediately at the question that followed. "Angels? Of course not." The angel in the sky suddenly didn't look so beautiful anymore, and he swallowed to get the bad taste out of his mouth. "If they did, they sure as hell never listened to anything I said."
The last sentence was said so low under his breath that Sam had to strain to hear him, and even then he wasn't sure if he'd heard right–but the look of malice on Dean's face told Sam otherwise. "Oh," he said quietly. He shuffled his feet through the grass and pushed aside dandelions warily. "I think they're real. How else could I have gotten such a great big brother?" Nervousness aside, the kind-hearted, honest smile Sam flashed before he ducked his head made Dean's anger melt away almost instantly.
If Dean could do that every day–make Sam smile like that–no matter what he had to do, it was worth it. Being a hunter was difficult, and being a big brother was even tougher, but he wouldn't trade it for anything. Even if he sometimes hated hunting with as much of a passion as Sam, or if being an older brother meant that there was always a younger brother following right on his heels, he wouldn't trade this life for anything. Dean wasn't sure if there was a word for he and Sam, because they were closer than brothers ever could be, but he knew he could never live without that bond.
He needed Sam (God, he loved that kid so much) as much as Sam needed him–maybe more. And that was the best feeling he would ever know.