Summary: Pre-Series – Bald Sam / Awesome, Protective Big Brother Dean – A bald child usually led to the assumption of a cancer diagnosis.
Disclaimer: Not mine
Warnings: Usual language
A/N: Another one-shot born of the E/O Challenge word-of-the-week (darling)
We make all sorts of assumptions because we don't have the courage to ask questions. ~ Miguel Ruiz
"Oh my goodness..." one of the women on the bench gasped softly and then shook her head; sadness in her tone and expression as she readjusted her sunglasses for a better look at the bald child running around on the playground; thankful she could spy behind her dark shades. "Bless his heart."
"I know," the other woman agreed from beside her; staring in the same direction as her friend as they watched all of the children play in the park. "I noticed him earlier. Such a darling little boy..."
"He's just precious," the woman with the sunglasses added. "But it breaks my heart. His poor parents..."
"Mmhmm," the other woman hummed. "I just can't imagine my child having cancer."
"He doesn't have cancer," an unexpected voice sharply corrected.
There was a beat of silence; filled with the distant laugher and yelling of children as they played beyond the bench.
Both women exchanged glances – slightly embarrassed that someone had been listening to them gossip – and then turned to stare at a clearly pissed ten-year old who was standing mere inches from them...and who was also bald.
There was another beat of silence at the realization; both women surprised to see a second bald child and uncomfortable at being confronted by him, especially since he obviously knew what they had been discussing.
Sunglasses woman cleared her throat. "How do you know he doesn't have cancer?" she demanded skeptically; annoyed that she felt somewhat afraid of the child glaring heatedly at her and her friend.
"Because I'm his brother," Dean coolly informed the strangers; having noticed them watching Sam for the past five minutes and having known exactly what they had suspected about the kid...because everyone did.
A bald child usually led to the assumption of a cancer diagnosis; and even at ten, Dean hated presumptuous dumbasses.
"Then what's wrong with him?" the other woman asked worriedly.
Dean's glare intensified. "Nothing's wrong with him," he snapped; because he loved Sam just the way he was and didn't want inconsiderate assholes making his little brother any more self-conscious than the kid already was now that Sam was getting older.
The women exchanged doubtful glances at Dean's explanation of nothing being wrong with the bald child playing on the swings.
Dean sighed. "He's got alopecia totalis," he told the nosy strangers and rolled his eyes at their expected expressions of confusion.
"He's got what?"
Dean shook his head at sunglasses woman as she stared at him. "Never mind," he told her, not interested in offering further details.
"Do you have that condition, too?" the other woman asked, vaguely waving toward Dean's head to indicate his absence of hair.
"No," Dean answered simply.
The woman nodded; noticing for the first time that Dean's head wasn't completely bald like the younger child they had been watching but was only shaved really close.
The woman's eyes misted with tears. "My goodness," she commented quietly. "You did that for him, didn't you?"
Dean didn't respond; because to him, it wasn't a big deal – it was just hair.
And he didn't want people's praise or sympathy for shaving his head because he didn't do it for recognition. He did it for Sam.
Sunglasses woman sighed – not seeming effected by what one brother had selflessly done for another – and pulled a small notepad from her purse along with a pen. "What's he got again?" she asked insensitively; clearly intending to write down the condition for her own purposes.
Dean glared. "What he's got or don't got is not your problem," he told her coolly and took a step forward. "But if you keep staring at him, I'm gonna be your problem. Got it?"
Sunglasses woman arched an eyebrow; wanting to laugh at such an absurd idea – that a ten-year old kid would be a threat to her – but somehow knowing Dean wasn't bluffing.
"She's got it," the other woman replied and cut her eyes at her friend in annoyance.
Sunglasses woman nodded her agreement.
"Good," Dean praised dryly; holding both women's gazes to reinforce his warning before turning and crossing back to his brother.
"Who are they?" Sam asked curiously; his feet dangling above the dirt as he sat in the swing and watched Dean approach.
Dean shrugged. "Nobody."
Sam narrowed his eyes. "We're not supposed to talk to strangers."
"No. You're not supposed to talk to strangers," Dean reminded with the authority of a big brother. "I can talk to whoever I want."
...especially if "whoever" included nosy old women who had nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon than to sit on a park bench and stare at his little brother.
Dean shook his head in disgust – glancing in their direction and feeling satisfied to see the women leaving – and then directed his attention back to Sam. "Want me to push you?"
"Okay," Sam agreed and smiled as Dean affectionately rubbed his slick head before crossing behind him; always liking it when his brother pushed him on the swings. "Hey, Dean..." he called, watching as the women Dean had been talking to earlier left the park.
"Yeah, Sammy..." Dean answered; scanning the playground for other threats while he played with his little brother.
"Were they talking about me?"
Dean swallowed; hating the feeling he got in his stomach whenever Sam asked him that...and hating that it seemed like Sam was always asking him that.
Dean sighed; knowing Sam would persist until he answered. "Yeah," he confirmed; because Sam already knew. "They were talking about you, kiddo."
Dean inwardly seethed; hating when his six-year old brother's shoulders drooped in defeat like that. "Sammy..."
"What did they say?" Sam asked and then glanced behind himself as Dean suddenly pulled him to a stop; the swing halting almost instantly.
"What have I told you about what other people say?" Dean demanded; his hard tone and expression directed toward the dumbasses of the world...not his little brother.
"Sam..." Dean called, crossing to face the kid. "What have I told you?"
Sam swallowed and stared up at his brother. "That it doesn't matter what they say. It only matters what you say."
Dean nodded his approval. "And what do I say?"
Sam smiled at the prompt. "That bald is badass."
Dean nodded again. "Damn right it is," he agreed heartily and winked at his little brother; rubbing the kid's head before rubbing his own. "And who's more badass than us?"
Sam beamed. "Nobody," he answered confidently; loving his big brother more than he could express with his six-year old vocabulary.
"Exactly," Dean assured; suddenly bored with the park and ready to get his brother away from the prying eyes of strangers. "Listen...what d'ya say we take our badass selves home and warm up some pizza for dinner?"
Sam nodded eagerly at the suggestion and jumped from the swing; taking Dean's offered hand and following his brother as Dean led the way; not caring who stared at them as they went back to the motel.
Because while those other people had hair, Sam had Dean – and Dean had Sam – and that would always be better than having hair.
After all, bald was badass.
Dean said so.
And Sam believed him.
A/N: Alopecia totalis is the total loss of all hair on your head. While its causes are unclear, it is currently believed to be an autoimmune disorder.