Title: Five Times Sam Got into the Strawberries
Characters: Sam and the people in his life
Category: Gen, schmangsty h/c dramedy?
Spoilers: General through S5
Summary: Sam has always loved strawberries.
Word Count: About 1300
Author's Note: For dickensgirl, who wanted something with "strawberries and Sam," and also authoressnebula, saberivojo, and everyone else who has a birthday around this time.
Five Times Sam Got into the Strawberries
John saw the "Pick Your Own Berries" sign by the road somewhere in farm country and he had to stop. It just reminded him too much of Mary, of summer, the smell of pies cooling on windowsills, toddler Dean splashing and laughing in a tub of water in the yard. Dean was six now and he stared up at his father with big, worried eyes, clearly unsure that this was a good idea.
"C'mon, kiddo," John said, gently chucking his chin. "Strawberries. It'll be fun."
The lady manning the stand looked at him sideways when he tugged little Sammy behind him to the field, but she gave them a carton, let them go.
It wasn't long before John realized that it wasn't himself Dean was worried about. Smears of sweet, chunky red frickin' everywhere, and he ended up paying far too much money for that little expedition and took far too few berries away with them.
He never did get that stain out of Sammy's shirt, either.
Dean hated being babysat by old Mrs. Brown. Sure, he got that Dad had to work, had to save up money so they could move on, and the people in this town were too nosy about a ten-year-old and his little brother being left alone all day. But c'mon! Dean was old enough look after his brother, even if Sammy was the most annoying kid in the world.
And besides, Mrs. Brown was mean. They weren't supposed to eat in here, not even the lunch Dad packed for them, because they might get crumbs on things. They had to be quiet so they wouldn't bother her cats. And there wasn't anything to do.
And she tortured them. Like today when they came in the door, and there was a big bowl of ripe, red strawberries sitting on the counter making the whole kitchen smell sweet and wonderful, and she frowned at them from behind her owl-shaped glasses and reminded them that they couldn't have any. They were for her grandchildren.
And Dean still had to look after Sammy and make sure he stayed out of her stuff, so it wasn't like it was any less work for him, being babysat. In fact, it was too quiet right now. Dean pulled up from where he'd been sitting upside-down on a recliner, watching Mrs. Brown's black and white TV. Where was Sammy?
Mrs. Brown's high-pitched shriek rang through the house just as Dean was headed toward the kitchen, and he quickened his pace, jogging into the room. Sammy was sitting on the counter, grinning hugely with red smears all around his mouth. And the bowl that used to be full of beautiful big berries held just a sad little heap of wet green strawberry caps.
Mrs. Brown's eyes flashed like a monster's. Dean gasped and took a step back, but Sammy just sat there and grinned.
When Dad came to pick them up later that afternoon, he found them sitting on the front steps waiting for him. They never had to go back to Mrs. Brown's house again.
Of all Dad's training exercises, all of which Sam hated, camping was definitely the worst. Sam huffed out air and shuffled his feet, kicking up random woody detritus. He could hear Dean somewhere in the east rustling in the undergrowth, probably doing something woodcraft-y like making a shelter out of fallen branches and loose pine needles.
Sometimes Sam really hated his older brother.
Sam let out a slight oof as his foot landed in a depression he hadn't noticed, almost sending him sprawling. He flailed a bit with his long arms and found his balance, then looked at the ground. He really should be more careful where he was stepping. A sweet scent hit his nostrils, sharp and full in the air, and he saw the patch of dark green leaves.
"Oh my God," Sam murmured. Strawberries. He'd found a patch of wild strawberries. His mouth started watering instantly.
He crouched to his knees, careful not to crush the fragile bounty, and started gathering berries into his shirt, held in one hand to form a pouch. Red juice stained his fingers and smudged his shirt and he couldn't have cared less. Swiftly his fingers moved, gathering berry after berry. Finally he couldn't resist eating one, popped it in his mouth, a fresh, startling burst of intense flavor.
And a few bugs. Sam crunched them, grimacing. Off to the east he heard a whistle followed by a thump, then Dean's triumphant whoop. "Sammy! I caught a rabbit! Come on back for chow!"
Sam looked down at the berries in his shirt. To share or not to share? That was the question. Dean always shared with Sam whatever he caught on these trips, every scrap of tough rabbit or squirrel meat, every bite of bird egg or morsel of fish. But these were strawberries.
He sighed and made a deal with himself. If he couldn't eat them all on the trip back to Dean, Dean could have whatever was left. Yeah. That would work.
Jessica Moore didn't really think of herself as a "girly" girl. Sure, she liked make-up and nice clothes, but they were hardly her top priorities. She wasn't fond of cleaning or cooking, wanted a career outside of the home, considered herself a feminist.
But every time she found out a little more about her boyfriend, the more she discovered that Sam had never experienced. Homemade cookies. Fresh-squeezed lemonade. Strawberry shortcake made right there in the kitchen. She liked filling in those gaps for him whenever she could.
And that was why Jess had been so pleased to find those small, beautifully firm, richly red strawberries at the little market just down the road from campus. It was time to introduce Sam to one of her favorite summertime treats: shortcake warm from the oven, sliced berries with just a sprinkle of sugar bringing out the juice, cold milk to soak it all...
And that was why she was so unhappy to open the fridge and find the green plastic basket all but empty of berries, only one sad, mushy red lump left in the bottom.
"Saaaaaammm!" she yelled. "You have to stop getting into the strawberries!"
A brief, guilty pause, and Sam's voice floated out from the back bedroom, somehow sheepish and indignant at the same time. "But I like them."
Jess huffed and slammed the refrigerator shut, making the bottles rattle in the door. Well. Maybe next week. She would just have to be quicker.
Bobby Singer's house was enjoying an interlude of quiet, the air still and somehow heavy, when a brief rustle announced the arrival of Castiel in the kitchen. The angel glanced around the sunlit room, then down at the small burden he carried in his hands. It had survived the journey safely, and he nodded to himself as he looked up again.
Bobby wheeled his chair into the doorway, looking up to catch Castiel's eye. "You find what you were looking for?"
Castiel nodded. "These are the best I could find."
Bobby grunted. He rolled his chair backward and tipped his head for Castiel to follow him.
"How is Sam?" Castiel asked, stepping softly after Bobby.
"Quiet. Still won't eat, won't drink. That blood really does a number on him."
"Dean's with him?"
"Yeah. He's waitin' for ya. Really seems to think that what you have there can help."
Castiel paused at the top of the stairs, looking again at the basket in his hands. He lifted the towel, looking down at the bright red berries, still glistening with dew from when he had picked them only minutes before, kneeling in wet grass at the wooded edge of an Alpine slope.
"I hope so," he said. And he carried the strawberries to Sam.
They helped, a little. And that was all they could ask.