My first challenge response! LOL! I put this up on LJ a few days ago but I've been lazy about cross-posting.
As always, thanks to Cheryl for the beta.
Spoilers: Through to 8.21, The Great Escapist.
Summary: Birthday schmoop for Sammy. That's all. This is for strgazr04's prompt for ohsam's birthday challenge. I've put the prompt after the story.
This Day in 1983
I hate birthdays.
Well. Not birthdays. My birthday. Other people get presents and cake and (if they have brothers like Dean) whiskey and strippers. Me? I get to wake up in hospital to be told my brother is holding on to life by a fingernail, die, watch my brother die, start the Apocalypse, throw myself into the Devil's Cage, have a hundred and eighty years' worth of prime PTSD-inducing memories gush into my brain like a flash flood… I could go on, but you get the idea.
So when I realize it's four in the afternoon on May 1 and Dean isn't asking me if I prefer blondes or brunettes ("It has to be one or the other; I just can't see you with a redhead, Sam") I really, really hope he's forgotten.
After all, it isn't like this birthday's going to be particularly better than any of the others. I'm going to spend it coughing up blood (at least I don't have to hide that anymore), and maybe Dean will make me eat something (I've avoided food all of today, and he's getting that determined look in his eye that means I won't be so lucky tomorrow) and then I can also spend some of my birthday throwing up.
Yay for being Sam Winchester.
I don't normally feel this sorry for myself. I mean, life sucks, but you have to deal, right? Not much point whining about it. But right now…
I truly, honestly thought we'd finally caught a break, that Dean and I would be able to go back to normal – Winchester normal, of course, but even Winchester normal would be better than spending our lives wondering when the next potentially world-ending crisis is going to happen.
And then the trials started.
I'm just glad I'm the one doing them. I don't think I could survive losing Dean again. Not now that I've finally got him back and we're us again.
When ten o'clock rolls around, I put my books away and announce that I'm going to bed. If I'm lucky I can just sleep through my birthday and wake up on May 3.
Dean looks startled, but pleased.
"That's right," he says approvingly. "Go get some sleep. You haven't been getting enough. You'll feel a lot better when you wake up. What do you want for breakfast?"
"Scrambled eggs it is."
He's using his big brother voice, the one that means Don't you dare argue with me because I brought you up and I know what you need better than anybody else including you, bitch. So I don't argue. I gather my blankets and make my way downstairs to my room.
I actually do fall asleep. I must be more tired than I thought.
When I wake up, it's with the feeling that I can't have been asleep for more than a couple of hours. My room's completely dark, and I can tell by the feeling of the bed shifting that Dean's sitting on the edge of it.
"Sorry," he murmurs, as one hand skims lightly across my back. "Didn't mean to wake you."
"Nothing. I just…" He sighs, and I can sense him shaking his head although I can't see it. "Happy birthday, Sammy. It's midnight."
"I thought… you know…"
"You thought I'd forget?"
Dean sounds hurt, and I cringe.
"Sorry. I didn't mean… I just don't like my birthday, Dean."
Another sigh. "Sam, I know you've got that thing where you think bad things happen on your birthday – no," he adds firmly, cutting me off before I can speak. "I don't want to hear the list. I know the list. And I know this year isn't going to be really great either. Even if nothing goes wrong, you're sick, and that sucks. But it's your birthday."
There's no point debating the issue. That would just upset Dean, too, and he's got enough to worry about.
"All right," I say.
"Go back to sleep, Sam."
His hand's rubbing easy, soothing circles on my back, and it doesn't take me long to drift off again. My last thought is that maybe, maybe, I'll actually manage to sleep through this birthday and nothing horrible will happen.
I sleep through till morning, and when I do wake up I just pull the covers over my head. I'm not getting up unless Dean comes in and makes me.
That's what I think, anyway, but when does anything ever go according to plan?
I'm halfway to drifting off again when there's a horrible crash from the direction of the kitchen, the shatter of glass, and I hear Dean yell, "Son of a bitch!"
I'm out of bed before he's finished the last word.
I knew it. I knew it, I freaking knew it. How the hell could my birthday go by without a disaster? Dean's probably fallen down – maybe fallen through a window, judging by the crash. But there aren't windows in the bunker.
Maybe a window magically appeared for him to fall through. We're Winchesters, it's not impossible.
Or maybe something fell on him. There's loads of stuff in the bunker that could fall on Dean.
Maybe he's got a head injury.
I stagger into the kitchen.
Dean's sitting on the floor, swearing and clutching an egg whisk. There's broken glass around him but no blood – thank God, there's no blood.
He's covered in something dark brown that's oozing down his face and the back of his neck.
He looks up at me. "Hey, Sammy." He grins brightly. "Sleep well?"
"What are you doing?"
"I was trying to beat confectioners' sugar into chocolate syrup. Not as easy as they make it sound. I'm telling you, Sam, I've got a lot more respect for bakers now."
"Were you making frosting?"
"Well, yeah," Dean says, like I'm being slow. "That's what you usually do with confectioners' sugar."
"Why were you making frosting?"
"Because it's your birthday. You know, birthdays, chocolate cake, something that might tempt you to actually eat and put some weight back on so I don't have to worry about people thinking I'm a negligent brother. I can practically see your ribs. And you've lost at least a hundred pounds –"
"I haven't lost a hundred pounds."
He shrugs. "Ninety-nine pounds. Maybe ninety-eight. Point is, I've seen you knock a Leviathan down by punching it. Temporarily, yes, but that's more than anyone else I've ever seen. And now you look like a strong wind would blow you away. We need to get your strength back up."
"Cake doesn't build muscle tone," I can't help pointing out.
"Right now I'll settle for anything that goes down and stays down. According to the people commenting, there's nobody in the world who doesn't love six-layer chocolate cake."
I reach past Dean for the sheet of paper on the counter and look at the recipe he's printed out.
"It says there are sixteen to twenty servings."
"That's for normal-sized people. There'll only be about three Sasquatch-sized servings." I don't want to know how much cake Dean thinks I can eat. "Now sit there and don't distract me." He points at a stool by the kitchen counter. "Stay out of the way, I'll clean up the glass and start the frosting again."
"You should clean yourself up, too. You've got frosting in your hair."
"Yeah. I may have been a little too enthusiastic with the whisk. Wait here."
Dean goes off, and I gather up the broken glass. Just another sign of how much the world wishes I'd never existed.
It's a good thing we don't walk around barefoot.
Dean comes back when I'm mopping up the chocolate syrup, clean and fresh and smelling suspiciously like coconuts.
"Did you use my shampoo?"
"You've got the fancy stuff. It's probably better for taking chocolate out of hair. And why are you cleaning up, anyway? I thought I told you to stay put. The last thing we need is you cutting yourself. You can't afford to lose more blood than you are already."
"Dean, I'm –"
"Don't you dare say fine." He glares me into silence and shoves me back onto the stool. "Now sit there and don't move."
He goes back to the counter and grabs the mixing bowl. As soon as he looks down at it, his shoulders slump.
"I got glass in the batter." He sounds heartbreakingly disappointed.
"That's OK. Thought that counts, right, dude?"
Dean shakes his head as he turns. "I wanted you to have a nice birthday for once. And I wanted you to have birthday cake." He's refusing to meet my eyes. "I bet Amelia made you birthday cake."
I don't know what to say to that. Amelia did make me birthday cake, but it's not the same thing.
"That was all she could do," I say at last. "She couldn't give me what I wanted most. Nobody could do that."
Dean laughs, but it sounds forced. "Such a girl, Sammy." He empties the mixing bowl into the trashcan. When he turns back to me, he looks calmer and more determined. "But you're right about one thing. Nobody knows what you need the way I do. Know why?"
"Because big brothers are awesome," I say dutifully.
"Damn straight. And I'm the most awesome of them all. Do you know where our CDC IDs are?"
"With all the others, I guess. I made new ones last week. Why?"
"We're going on a drive. Come on. Get dressed. And do something to your hair. Nobody's going to believe you work for the CDC."
I stare, but there's no point arguing with Dean when he's like this, so I go to my room to change.
Ten minutes later we're in the car. I try to stay awake, but Dean drives so smoothly and takes the turns so gently that I'm asleep before the bunker's even out of sight. It would be embarrassing if there were anyone other than my big brother around.
When I wake up, the car's stopped and Dean's standing outside my door shaking my shoulder.
"What?" I ask blearily, noting that we seem to be outside a hospital but not having time for much else before he pulls me out of the car and pushes me through the doors.
We're in the foyer, not the emergency room, so whatever's going on can't be too bad.
I ask Dean what we're doing, but he shushes me and leads the way to the reception desk. Big letters over it say Lawrence General Hospital.
Dean drove all the way to Lawrence?
To a hospital?
Before I can ask any of the twenty questions that spring to mind, Dean's talked us past the receptionist and is hauling me towards the elevators. He herds me inside and pushes the button for the maternity ward.
"Dean?" I hiss. "Is there something I should know?"
"You're not going to be an uncle. You know they haven't remodelled this place for like fifty years? Makes this easier, of course."
"Where are we going?"
The elevator pings for our floor. Dean walks out. I trail after him, trying to ignore the strange glances we're getting from nurses and nervous family members. Dean takes a turn, goes down a corridor, and stops outside a door. For a moment he just stares at it, touching the 314 carved into the wood like there's something special about those numbers. Then he peers in through the glass.
"It's empty. Good." He opens the door and goes in. "You coming or what?"
He flicks the light on and looks around the room, dissatisfied about something. Then, with a jerky nod, he grabs one of the chairs and hauls it over to the window.
"They moved the chairs around."
He sits down, and all of a sudden he looks like he's about to cry. I feel a moment of panic. Did something happen here I don't know about? Maybe in his year with Lisa? Was this where they visited her sister when –
"Come here, Sammy."
I go to him. I'm not sure what I'm expecting. I'm definitely not expecting him to seize my wrists and tug me down to my knees in front of him.
"You're a lot bigger now."
"Dean, what –"
"I was sitting here," he interrupts. "Here, Sam, in this exact spot. I was sitting here, and the nurse brought you to me and put you in my arms."
I don't say anything. There's nothing I can say. I just drop my head to Dean's knee and let him keep talking.
"You held my finger and you wouldn't let go. Mom said it was because you trusted me right away." Dean's hand slides into my hair. "All I wanted right then was to be able to live up to your trust. And I hate seeing you sick, because it feels like I've failed."
"But you know what?" Dean asks, and something in his voice makes me look up at him.
"The world threw a lot at you, and I couldn't protect you from everything though I wanted to. I wanted to. I would have given anything for you to be happy and normal and whatever else you wanted. I'm sorry about that, Sam. You probably don't believe me, but I really am."
"But you survived. You took everything that happened to you and you dealt with it and you're here and you're talking to me. And that means I did something right."
"Yeah. You did."
"Your birthday isn't a sign of bad things happening, Sam. It's a sign of you surviving them. And I'm proud of you for that." I blink back tears, and Dean smiles and goes on, "I made a promise to you, here, this day in 1983. And I'm making it again now. You are my baby brother and I will always do everything I can to keep you safe. And if I fail, it won't be because I didn't try. And if I do fail and crap happens, I know you'll fight to stay with me."
"Yeah," I whisper. "I will. Always, Dean."
"That's my boy." His fist bumps my chin lightly. "Now how about we get out of here and go get something to eat? If this morning taught me anything, it was that birthday cake is for losers. We're going to get you birthday pie."
I laugh, feeling inexplicably lighter as Dean hauls me to my feet.
Maybe my birthday won't be so bad after all.
Here's the prompt:
These trials have been kicking Sam's ass. He feels like crap, lost weight, and can't stop coughing. It's just his luck that he feels this way on his birthday. It's the one day he hates the most out of the whole year. Nothing good has ever come from his birthday. Maybe he'll just stay under the covers in bed and hide from the day. Then nothing bad could happen right? But then there's a crash in the Batcave's kitchen and swears from Dean. It's enough for Sam to bolt out of bed thinking his birthday bad luck has struck again. What if Dean set something on fire or if he cut himself bad cooking? What if..? But upon bursting into the kitchen all Sam finds is Dean covered in flour and chocolate icing. He's noticed Sam's lost weight and decided to find the most decadent, fattening cake recipe Paula Dean had and make it for his Sammy. Of course in Winchester World, nothing goes as planned. Somehow Dean makes Sam feel better anyway.
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