I was watching "A Supernatural Christmas" (recent fan folks, I'm only on season 3) and I thought to myself, "what would Christmas be like for the Darley brothers?" Thus this story was born. Lots of fluff. Hope you enjoy!
"Billy, what's a chestnut?" Joey blinked at his older brother behind long lashes, wrinkling his nose. The small boy kicked his legs underneath his chair at the bar, a glass of water swishing around in his hand. Billy made a face, trudging towards the counter from the back of the bar. He hated running errands for Bones, especially when Joey was out of school. He couldn't leave him alone, so he had to bring him along and leave him to sit in random places. At least the bar was familiar ground. Billy gave the bartender, Tony, a nod and walked past his brother to the front door.
"It's a nut, stupid." He muttered under his breath, holding open the heavy oak door for his skinny little brother. Joey slid past and kicked through the blanket of snow on the ground, hands buried in his jeans.
"Can we buy some?" Billy snorted and shook his head.
"You wouldn't eat 'em if we did. Come on." He led his brother down the street. The wind was starting to pick up as the sun dipped low in the sky. Before long, the temperature would be freezing and their worn, winter coats wouldn't stand up to the cold. Billy could deal with chattering teeth, but Joey was skin and bone, easily sick after a light chill.
"Nuh uh, I would!" Joey whined, crunching behind. "I eat lots of nuts. Peanuts, walnuts…" Billy smirked to himself, sniffling as his nose began to run.
"Keep your nuts to yourself." Glancing back, he grinned at the perplexed look on his brother's face. He was barely out of kindergarten and the world hadn't ruined him yet. It amazed Billy how innocent he could be. After all they'd seen…
"Why ya thinking about chestnuts anyway?" Billy asked, changing the subject before the kid started listing more nuts. The boy's face lit up a little, the pale color subsiding to let a little cherry rise into his cheeks.
"A song on the radio. It's Christmas time, Billy." The older boy hid a groan. Christmas. The holiday that drove him crazy every year. Ever since he could remember, he'd hated Christmas.
"Just don't sing it." He grunted back, turning a corner and picking up the pace. It was getting dark fast and he didn't want to get caught alone on these streets.
"Can we get a tree?" Joey suddenly blurted, his teeth chattering between his words. "Everybody else gets a tree." Billy looked back as Joey looked into the windows lining the block. He wasn't lying, everyone on the block, regardless of how poor they were, had some variance of a tree. Plastic and dusty or living and pathetic, it didn't matter. Windows were lit up with Christmas lights, casting colors into the snow on the ground. Joey was smiling as he looked. But all Billy saw was his little brother's lips turning blue.
"Come 'ere." Billy grumbled, taking off his jacket and throwing it around Joey's form. They only had eight blocks to go. He could make it in his long sleeved shirt and gloves just fine. With a smile, Joey pulled the coat tight around his body, the sleeves hanging down to his knees.
"So can we?" He asked again, flashing Billy a toothy grin. He'd lost his first baby tooth months ago, leaving a hole in the bottom row of his mouth. When he smiled, it reminded Billy of the old boxers that drank at the Four Roses, grinning down at him with gaps of gum.
"No." Billy murmured, crossing his arms to shield his chest from the cold. Instantly Joey's face fell and a lump formed in Billy's stomach. He hated seeing his little brother upset, but a tree wasn't going to happen.
"Why not…everybody else has one…" Joey whined after him, sniffling with a red nose and blue lips.
"We aren't everyone else." He had asked Bones the same question when he was younger. But he hadn't gotten much more than a laugh as a response. He'd never asked again.
"But it's Christmas." Joey spoke with such honest sadness that it hurt Billy's chest, twisting his heart in his ribs. He sighed and stopped, waiting until Joey was beside him to start walking again.
"Christmas is for church people." He stated firmly. "It's for all that God stuff and we don't believe in that. Got it?" Joey nodded solemnly.
"So Santa doesn't give you presents unless you love God?" His little voice barely trumped a loud gust of wind and Billy chewed on the inside of his bottom lip. He hated explaining everything, but no one else was going to do it. And if he didn't say something, Joey would only repeat the question until it was answered.
"Santa isn't real." Billy blurted angrily. "He's just a myth so little kids aren't assholes to their parents. Okay?" Joey froze in the snow, staring ahead at his brother as Billy trudged forward.
"But he brings all the presents…" He whimpered so quietly, Billy didn't hear.
"Joe, keep up. You're gonna get sick." The little boy scampered after him, brushing tears onto his gloves before they got too cold.
Billy had cranked the heat as high as it would go and sat in his bed, grumbling at the shivers running up and down his back. It was supposed to be record cold that night, dipping well below freezing. He'd wrapped the pipes in the basement, taken their only space heater up into their bedroom and cranked it to max, praying it would heat up the drafty second story.
As the hour slipped past midnight, he glanced at the old alarm clock on his nightstand. Bones was probably staying in one of his apartments. He had a few. That was one of the perks of having an entire town under your thumb. He rare stayed in the house anymore. But that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. It was only bad when things broke. Like the water heater. Or the refrigerator.
Once, Bones had left them with a fridge full of rotting food for a week. Billy'd had to feed Joey crackers and water, going hungry himself.
Thinking about that week, he realized that last Christmas Bones hadn't even shown up. He'd carried on like it was any other day and left his nine-year-old son to explain to a toddler that their dad had forgotten Christmas. But Billy hadn't had the heart. So he'd lied.
"It's Santa's year off." Joey stuck out his bottom lip, his hair messy from sleep as he stood beside Billy's bed.
"But Mr. Tony said I better sleep good, or Santa won't bring me presents." Billy rolled over, facing the little boy.
"Tony forgot about Santa's vacation." Joey looked in his brother's eyes for a moment then let out a sigh.
"Oh." Billy fought off the pained expression itching to appear on his face.
"I'll make ya breakfast and then we'll play in the snow." He offered up the best replacement he could think of and Joey slowly brightened, his teary eyes lifting with the prospect of snow.
"Okay." Then he tottered back to his bed, hoisting one leg high to climb onto the old frame. Billy let a small smile cross his lips, but his chest still felt tight. He didn't like lying to Joey. He wished he could give him Christmas. "Hey Billy." He lifted his head to acknowledge the call in the dark bedroom.
"Where does Santa go for vacation?"
Billy fought off a tremble in his lip as he recalled the memory. Nothing was better. In fact, things were worse. He'd told his brother they couldn't have a tree, then broken his spirit further by telling him there wasn't a Santa. He'd been cruel. It was his job to make things better, not make them worse.
Glancing over at his clock, he slipped into a state of concentration. His mind shot away from pain and sadness and focused on the next morning. Then, without a sound, he jumped out of bed and pulled on his coat.
He felt like he'd barely touched the sheets before Joey was shaking him awake, the little boy's face appearing inches from his own.
"BILLY! BILLY WAKE UP!" He sat up and watched as Joey bounced around on his bed, wispy brown hair sticking out in every direction. "YOU WERE WRONG!" He shouted gleefully, kicking so hard off the bed he was jolting Billy around on the mattress.
"Bout what?" Billy muttered, wiping his tired eyes.
"SANTA WAS HERE BILLY! SANTA WAS HERE!" Then he sprang off the bed and thundered across the room, pointing wildly. "LOOK AT WHAT HE LEFT!" He grabbed a bundle off the floor, shaking it with so much enthusiasm that Billy couldn't hold back a laugh. It was nothing more than an empty cereal box covered in newspaper with a Hot Wheels car inside. But to Joey, it was so exciting he trembled.
"What is that?" Billy asked with fake disbelief, sliding off his bed. His jeans were stiff on his legs from the wet and cold that had dried on him over night. He hadn't had the energy to change when he'd finally gotten back. Joey bounced over to him and held the box out, beaming with happiness.
"It's for you!" He exclaimed, flashing the biggest smile he could muster. Billy lifted an eyebrow and took the box, eyeing the paper.
"I don't think so…" He murmured, turning it over. Joey shook his head, pointing at the letters written in pen on the side.
"It says, 'To Billy Love Santa'." Billy snorted and ruffled Joey's hair. It didn't. His little brother had made that up; he couldn't read.
"Joe, that says 'Joey'. Quit lyin'." Then he handed the box back, grinning at the boy's smile. Pointing across the room, Billy showed him a second, identical box. "And so does that one." The little boy raced to the other box and brought both back, holding one in each hand. Then suddenly he stopped, staring from the presents to his brother.
"But where's yours?" Billy shrugged and smiled wider.
"I'm an asshole. I don't get any presents." Joey giggled then shoved a box on Billy's lap.
"I'll share." Without another word, he tore into the first box, ripping apart the cardboard to get at the tiny yellow Camaro inside. He gasped and yelled, holding the car in his hand like it was the most amazing thing he'd ever seen. When Billy handed him the second box, his jaw was still hanging open.
The second present met a similar fate and soon Joey was pushing a tiny Chevy truck beside his Camaro, racing them on Billy's mattress. Watching his brother in silence, Billy realized he hadn't stopped smiling for almost five minutes. He was tired from walking ten blocks to the gas station and ten blocks back in the middle of the night; He was broke from buying two boxes of Lucky Charms just to get the prize cars inside. But, for some reason, all of that had been worth it. Just to see Joey smile.
Suddenly he remembered another errand from the night before. Standing and crossing the room, he lifted the sheet off of a lumpy object in the closet. Joey noticed and stopped playing, watching as his brother carried something to the window.
"Santa also told me ta put this up." Billy muttered, hoisting the wreath onto the sill. It was big and leafy, covered in red flowers and little red berries. He'd swiped it from the cemetery across town. A dead guy wouldn't miss it.
"WOAH!" Joey shouted so loudly it made Billy stumble back from the window, nearly dropping the wreath in the process. "It's a tree circle!" Billy shook his head and laughed, wiping his hands on his jeans as he walked back to his bed.
"It's called a Christmas wreath, stupid." Joey's mouth fell open even further.
"Wow." As Billy sat down, groaning onto his bed, the boy threw his arms around him. In a moment of confusion, Billy just blinked, staring down at Joey's messy hair. "This is the best Christmas ever." The little boy whispered. It took a lot for Billy not to cry as he slowly patted his brother's back.
"Just wait 'til next year."
BAwwww so mushy. Love you guys and thank you so much for reading! I promise a chapter of something soon. I'm officially done with college. :)