Disclaimer: I don't own SpaghettiO's, Blue Earth, Stanford, Monopoly, Supernatural, Listerine, or the 5 Stages of Grief.
A/N: This is a really weird, slightly convoluted, and very lopsided story that I wrote for me and no one else. I doubt anyone else would have it.
VERY lopsided. Just warning you.
Timeline: Before the Fire to Season 5 or thereabouts.
As a toddler, Dean Winchester was an exceptionally well-behaved child. Even Before the Fire, he was never one to fuss or throw fits. Certainly he never displayed any symptoms of brat-like behavior. And After the Fire, well… Dean was much too busy After the Fire to be a brat.
Still, children are children, and even the most polite and well-behaved of them have their breaking point. There's only so much a kid can take before he snaps. Honestly, looking back, John was surprised that Dean's deal-breaker had taken so long to manifest.
The first time Dean ever threw a temper tantrum was in 1984. He had just turned five years old, and John was just starting to learn about what Lurked in the Darkness. Pastor Jim Murphy was instrumental in this instruction, and the Winchesters had been living at his house in Blue Earth, Minnesota for a couple of days at this point. Since arriving, Dean had been quiet and solemn, carefully keeping his little brother out of the work areas and making sure Sam was occupied at all times. Not once did the baby leave his big brother's sight.
The details of What Exactly Happened were sort of obscure, since John wasn't really paying attention until the screaming started and Dean was too young to remember anything, but when the story was told afterwards it was fairly well-agreed upon that Pastor Jim had simply picked little Sammy up because he saw that Dean was falling asleep while holding the child. He was pretty small to be holding a baby for hours on end, and both boys were clearly exhausted.
(It should be noted here that children are a lot like dogs-you never touch them without asking first. Petting a strange dog without asking its owner might get your hand bitten off. Pick up a strange child without first getting permission and…)
Instead of doing the smart thing and informing John that his kids were sleepy and needed to go to bed, Pastor Jim decided to try his hand at Bedtime. (Bless his well-meaning soul. It really wasn't his fault.)
The instant-the very second-Dean felt Sam being lifted from his arms, he woke up completely and started screaming bloody murder. Pastor Jim was so surprised he nearly dropped the kid. (Dean maintained later that he actually did drop Sam, which accounted for Sam's hormonal issues as a teenager, but this was never proven and was likely a fabrication on Dean's part. See above: too young to remember.) The five year old threw himself off of the couch he and his brother had been lying on and started kicking at Jim's heels and shins.
The commotion brought John running immediately, and he arrived just in time to watch Dean deliver a painful kick to Pastor Jim's kneecap-all the while screaming something unintelligible at the poor man.
(At this point, it becomes necessary to point out that much of Dean's attitude in his later years is hereditary. Sam's as well, but that's not really important right now.)
Once he'd determined for certain that his children were not, in fact, being torn apart by wild animals-which was truthfully what he'd first thought when he heard the screams-John settled casually against the doorframe of Jim's kitchen and enjoyed the show.
"John!" Pastor Jim called desperately after Dean landed one particularly well-placed kick to his upper thigh (later, they would marvel at Dean's flexibility-at five, that was a pretty high kick). "Help me!"
Chuckling softly, John moved forward and deftly caught his five year old around the waist, lifting him high into the air and safely away from the poor pastor.
"What's going on here, kiddo?" he asked Dean seriously. As if he didn't know. Apparently, Dean shared this opinion, because he fixed his father with a "don't play games with me" look that belonged on his mother's face.
Now, Dean didn't talk much at this age, due to Trauma and other nasty things like his mother dying when he was four, but what little he did say was guaranteed to be 1) about Sammy or John or the Impala, and 2) directed towards his father. Thus, it was no surprise to John when Dean screwed up his little face and said, in the oddly distinct and succinct way of young children, "He took Sammy."
John nodded sagely. (Because that should explain everything. And it did.) "Yeah, I guess he did. But you know, Dean," he said, swinging the child around onto his hip. "Pastor Jim wasn't trying to hurt Sammy."
Defiantly, Dean glared. "He's not s'posed t' take Sammy."
"No," John agreed. "He's not, but he didn't know that. You can't be mad at him when he didn't know, right?"
Dean glanced over at Jim suspiciously, but was forced to agree that this was fair. John beamed at them all.
"Now, Jim, give Sam back to his brother, and Dean, you and Sammy will go on up to bed. Okay?"
"M'kay," Dean acquiesced sleepily, twisting in John's arms and holding out his own for Sam. John smiled and lowered his son to the floor. Jim carefully walked forward and placed the surprisingly silent Sam into his big brother's arms. Dean eyed him for a second, before gruffly saying, "Sowwy for kickin' ya."
Pastor Jim felt a grin break out over his face. "That's alright. I'm sorry for taking Sam without asking first."
Forgiving Jim easily, Dean smiled back at him. "'Sokay." He scowled suddenly. "Jus' don't do it 'gin!"
Laughing, Jim assured him that he wouldn't. Satisfied, the five year old followed his father to the stairs, surrendered Sam to him in order to safely navigate the steps, and went up to bed.
That was the first.
Sam's first tantrum was a minor affair involving SpaghettiO's, and was honestly so similar to others he had over the years it's hardly worth mentioning. Sammy wanted 'sketti. End of story.
The first notable explosion of Sam Winchester's temper was in spring of '92. He was nine years old, and he was scared of the dark. He was convinced that there was something in his closet, and as he and Dean had revealed to their father that Sam was aware of what Lurked in the Darkness earlier that year, John had simply handed his son a .45 and told Dean to keep an eye out.
Dean keeping an eye out was infinitely more reassuring to a child who hero-worshiped his big brother than any firearm could be. He handled the weapon with ease, having been instructed in this last year as a "school project," but was uncomfortable with the idea of actually shooting it-especially in the house. Dean patted his shoulder and told him not to worry.
"We'll handle it," he said. Sam believed him. There wasn't anything Dean couldn't handle.
But that night, the noises that had led Sam to believe there was a monster in the closet in the first place started up again. He crouched on his bed in fear, clutching the .45 in both hands and wishing Dean would stop telling him he was overreacting because he wasn't.
Finally, when the noises got to be too much and Sam couldn't take it anymore, he lifted the .45 and emptied half a clip into his closet door. The noise was deafening, but luckily their house wasn't inside city limits.
John came tearing in, saw Sam with the gun, and swore. He flipped on the light switch and flung open the closet door. Dean moved to sit beside Sam on the younger boy's bed and their father peered into the gloom. The two boys only caught a glimpse of something oozing green slime before a subdued John shut the door and turned back to them. Gently, he took the gun away from Sam and reached for their hands. Dean, at twelve, normally wouldn't allow this, but he was too startled to protest as their father led them into his room and tucked them into his own bed.
Dean usually threw tantrums only when someone was interfering with Sam. Dean had quickly learned that children acting like wild animals was a surefire way to get People to leave his family alone, and had adapted. Kick and scream, maybe throw something, and the (usually innocent, nice-as-all-get-out, mother-next-door) person would immediately back away and stop staring/poking/looking at Sammy.
Sam varied in his displays of temper, and anything from SpaghettiO's to Hunting vs. School was a target. He was unpredictable in anger and sensitive about… well, everything. Only Dean was really good at reading Sam, and only Dean had ever been able to know absolutely everything about him.
This was mildly frustrating for the various babysitters, teachers, and counselors the brothers encountered over the years.
The Winchesters didn't care.
Sam Winchester climbed onto the bus bound for Stanford, California and blinked back tears. Normally, this would be something of an embarrassment for Sam, who had spent his entire life surrounded by the toughest, meanest, manly-men you could ever hope to find, but at the moment, he didn't care. Having your father tell you not to bother coming home if you planned on going to school sort of gave you a reason to cry, he justified. And Dean…
Dean was standing in the pouring rain next to the insipid little sign that said BusT Stop like that was supposed to be funny or something. Dean wasn't laughing. He probably wasn't crying either, but Sam couldn't be sure of that. Dean could get pretty emotional sometimes. At least where Sam was concerned. His older brother was still staring at the bus, the same thing he'd been doing ten minutes ago when Sam had turned away and prepared to face his future. Alone.
Sam straightened his shoulders as best he could and took a deep shuddering breath. Right. So he was alone. Big deal. So what if he'd never truly been alone a day in his life? So what if not having Dean beside him felt wrong, wrong, wrong? He was an adult. He could do this. He deserved this. Deserved to have a life outside of hunting. If his dad couldn't accept that-couldn't accept Sam…
Then Sam would just have to go it alone. That was it. And Dean…
The bus finally pulled away from the station and Sam resolutely stared straight ahead and never looked back.
About an hour later, a Chevy Impala raced by BusT Stop, following the bus to Stanford.
Upon hearing that his idiotic big brother had actually electrocuted himself and was now going to die-that's it, sorry, there's nothing more we can do, do not pass GO, do not collect two-hundred dollars, perhaps-we-can-make-him-comfortable-Sam pulled out that face that always made his family groan. It was his Determined, Save Everybody face, as Dean called it, and every time it came out, something went sideways.
Dean tried to head it off.
"I know it's not easy but I'm gonna die and you can't stop it."
And Sam's eyes narrowed and his mouth went flat and he said, "Watch me."
Dean smashed up one of the only things he ever loved in 2006, because his father had given it to him and his father was dead. Then he fixed it, because his father had given her to him, and it wasn't his baby's fault that John Winchester was a stubborn, demon-dealing, self-sacrificing git.
Normal People, when a family member dies, mourn for a while, and then start planning a funeral. Normal People go through the five stages of grief-denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, with a sizable chunk of time being devoted to each. Normal People Move On.
Normal People do not go out to the nearest crossroads to strike a deal with the devil.
Winchesters are not Normal People. They run through the five stages at an extremely accelerated rate.
Knife to the back, hard, fast, probably didn't even feel it, he only lived for a few seconds after…
Dean cycled through denial so fast his head spun. No use denying anything when you can feel your baby brother's lifeblood seeping between your fingers.
Anger lasted a bit longer. About a whole day, actually. Poor Bobby got the brunt of it, but Dean's abuse of himself was nothing to sneeze at.
And then came bargaining.
A crossroads demon, red eyes flashing, "I'll give you one year," a kiss that tasted of sulfur and made him want to wash his mouth out with Listerine, and then running, running, running back to that cabin, as fast as he possibly could, with one mantra pounding through his head:
Sammy. Sammy. Sammy. Sammy.
The final two stages never even made an appearance.
When Dean died, ripped to shreds by Hellhounds, Sam spent a little longer with denial, because he had never been as realistic as Dean.
"No, no! No, Dean, please…"
Of course, Sam had had a whole year to go through the grief stages-and had done so, accordingly. He didn't need any extra time. Once the denial wore off, he skipped anger, skipped bargaining-but only because Dean had made him promise-skipped depression, and flat-out refused acceptance. If Sam wasn't allowed to make a crossroads deal, then he'd just have to find some other way to bring his brother back.
Since this was Sam, and Sam's Determined, Save Everybody face was in play-with one slight variation, it was now set in a sub-category: Determined, Save Dean-his plan went to That Bad Place in a handbasket.
But give him points for trying.
Dean's plan for Saving the World mostly involved thumbing his nose at angels and demons alike, grabbing Sam and running like heck. This did not work either, but he gets points for creativity at least.
When they finally had to concede defeat to Zachariah, Sam and Dean dragged their feet on the way as often as they could. And when that confrontation went to pieces, the other angels honestly couldn't say they were surprised.
Nobody did tantrums like the Winchesters.
A/N: I'm not completely satisfied with this one, but the muse is finished with it for now, so I guess I am too.
There's a line in the 2001 section that is the premise of another fic. Hopefully, it will be written soon.
Additional, No-Longer-A-Spoiler Disclaimer: Dialogue in 2005 was from episode 11 of season 1, "Faith."