Disclaimer: This is a tag to "A Very Supernatural Christmas"
Christmas Eve, 1991
The faint background noise of the television was barely audible as Sam Winchester gingerly wrapped a present for his dad with newspaper. Sam was struggling to contain his excitement. Dad would love it; hopefully, he'd return to the motel soon so that he could witness Dad's delight when he opened his present.
Dean looked on suspiciously as Sammy wrapped his gift. He was too distracted standing guard at the window to really notice what Sam was wrapping. It was probably some trinket from a Lucky Charms box, their standard meal for practically any time of day. Or did Sammy steal something? The brief thought was horrifying. Dean hoped that his brother wasn't copying his own necessary habit. Money was scarce, if present at all.
"What is that?" Dean demanded.
Sam looked up from his gift and announced: "You'll see when Dad unwraps it. Do you think the wrapping job is okay?"
Dean snorted with affection and amusement. "Yeah, sure. Nice tape work. What I really want to know is where did you get the money? Did you steal it?" Dean's forehead wrinkled and his shoulders tensed as he awaited Sam's answer.
"No! One of Dad's friends gave it to me. I think his name was Bobby? He said Dad would love it."
A faint smile of relief tugged at Dean's lips upon realizing that Sam's innocence remained intact. He stepped away from the poorly stitched brown curtains to get closer to Sam. "What is it?"
"You'll have to wait for Daddy to unwrap it, Big Brother."
Dean's smile widened as he brushed aside the rumpled ball of clothes on the couch so he could sit next to his brother. The room stank of unwashed clothing and rotting takeout food. Oh well, it wasn't the most disgusting motel room the brothers had stayed in. And they wouldn't be staying for long—Dad promised he would only be gone for a few weeks. Dean only had one magazine to distract him from Sammy's constant chattering for all those weeks. He'd have it memorized by the time Dad was ready to move the boys to the next town.
Over the last few months, Sam was becoming increasingly fascinated by the true nature of their family's lifestyle. He always asked Dean questions, questions Dean didn't desire to answer. With his dirty rolled up sleeves and forehead wrinkles, Dean looked more like someone battling a mid-life crisis than his twelve years of age. None of that was significant at the moment. Sam remained preoccupied and Dean finally got to relax. Just as he began to re-read last December's issue of Hot Rod magazine, Sam disturbed him with yet another question.
"Do you think Dad will like the present? He will come for Christmas, right?"
"He'll be here, Sammy. You know he will."
The conviction of Dean's reply only partly reassured Sam. He secretly didn't have much faith that his father would make it for Christmas at all. Traces of doubt lingered in his eyes. "Dean, do you think he knows it's Christmas?"
"Dad knows," Dean insisted. "He'll be here."
Dean could just tell that Sam was on the verge of asking another question. Why did Sam want information so desperately? Dean had done everything possible to keep Sam's questions at bay. Why did Sam want to unravel everything Dean had worked for? It wasn't fair.
As if he could read Dean's mind, Sam asked, "Where is Dad? Why does he always travel?"
Couldn't Sammy shut his piehole for five minutes? Maybe if Dean gave unsatisfying answers he would finally give up. "I've told you a thousand times. Dad's on business".
Much to Dean's dismay, Sam wasn't easily giving up on finding answers. "I know that. What kind of business?"
Dean's lips pursed; it was an expression he wore when in distress. Sam instantly began to regret asking. Dean was always so frightening when he was frustrated. After collecting his thoughts Dean finally opened his mouth to answer. "Dad sells stuff."
Before Sam could ask for more details Dean was shutting them down. "He just sells stuff. Quit asking."
It was beginning to scare Dean how he could guess the next question Sam was going to ask. He couldn't keep up the charade much longer. Dean had discovered the "family business" on his sixth birthday—saving people and hunting the demons that haunted them. He had been sleeping with a rifle under his pillow ever since learning about it. But Sammy finding out about the truth? No way. There was no way possible an eight year old who cried whenever he saw a clown could emotionally handle the knowledge…. of demons existing.
It was silent—finally. Now time to get back to that magazine.
"How come we never talk about Mom?"
Mom; it had been two years since Dean had heard the slightest mention of her. A knot formed in his stomach. Mom had been Dean's best friend for the first four years of his life. If someone even suggested Mom leaving him for a few hours they might as well have suggested the loss of one of his limbs. These days all Dean felt was phantom pain.
"Dean? Are you okay?"
It was too late. Dean was already submerged under a sea of memories. With every brutal wave there was a new memory. A memory Dean worked so hard to purge from his mind. He could hear her loud, off-key voice as she sang "Hey Jude" over his crib every night… for lullabies were far too "boring".
In his reverie, Dean could feel her delicate fingers ruffling his hair, shooing away all possibilities of having nightmares. "Goodnight, Love," she would whisper, "angels are watching over you." Where were the angels now?
"Dean? Dean, are you crying?"
Tears sprung from Dean's eyes. He needed to get a grip. Don't you dare cry, Soldier. It was too late. Sam had already noticed the liquid flags of surrender on his cheeks. Dean was not going to have a "chick flick moment". He had a war to fight. How dare Sammy point out his tears?
"Shut up!" Dean's calloused fingers curled into fists. "Don't you dare talk about Mom, ever!"
Sam backed away in shock. Dean's fist was in the air. Sam squinted his eyes shut. Seconds passed by before he realized Dean was grabbing the motel keys and heading for the door. "Where are you going?"
The sound of the door colliding with the cheap green wallpaper served as Sam's answer.
The motel room finally felt safe again when Dean came walking through the door. "Where did you go? You seemed so upset when you left."
Dean waved a brown bag excitedly. It took him a good two hours but he finally earned enough money gambling in the bar next door to buy Sam a decent dinner. It wasn't the most age appropriate way to earn money, but it sure beat stealing. "Relax. I just went out to get you some dinner. Here," Dean warned before he tossed a bag of potato chips in Sam's direction. "Have some vegetables."
Instead of eating like Dean hoped, Sam moved to his bed. His lips curled into a smirk. The kind of smirk that indicated he knew something he wasn't supposed to. "I finally understand why you keep a gun under your pillow," he announced proudly.
Every muscle in Dean's body tensed. How did Sam know about the gun? Maybe he just made an assumption?
"I don't have a gun, Sam," Dean insisted.
Sam pulled up the stained motel pillow. Dean's rifle stood out like a tree in the Sahara desert. "Don't lie. I'm not stupid. See, I know."
"No you don't!" Dean snarled. He wanted to get down on his knees and pray to a God he didn't believe in that Sammy didn't actually know the truth.
"Just eat your dinner, Sammy. I got you potato chips, SpaghettiOs and diet Pepsi, your favo—"It was then when Dean noticed the black leather journal on Sam's bed.
"Where did you get that? That's Dad's!"
"Like I told you," Sam contended "I know everything."
Dean's palms clasped his forehead. Everything he worked for was disintegrating before his eyes. "Sammy, I'm going to kill you."
Sam plopped down on the bed opposite Dean's, urgency burning though his hazel eyes. "Do monsters exist?"
Dean leaned towards Sam. His face softened, he had to be as gentle as possible.
"Monsters do exist and they can be dangerous, but we're safe." Dean paused, knowing Sam needed time to digest every word he was saying. "Dad is a hero, Sammy. He fights monsters all the time; he's even fighting them right now. "
"B-but, I thought the monsters in my closet weren't real." Sam's anxiety was spiking. He crossed his freckled arms crossed over his chest protectively.
"Hey, don't worry. I already checked the closet. There's nothing for you to worry about." Dean's reassurance wasn't very reassuring. Sam's lips trembled; this wasn't the Christmas Eve he had envisioned.
For once, it was Dean who wouldn't quit yapping and he hated it. At that moment, he would kill to hear Sam pester him with questions. The normally animated eight year old stared blankly at his socks. He shouldn't have left Sam alone. He should have just kept his game face on when Sam mentioned Mom. This was entirely his fault. All Dean could do was babble things he didn't believe. "—Dad's fine, we're fine, everyone's fine. Soon Dad is going to come home and we'll leave and—"
Sam started to bawl—his innocence far too young to harbor such anguish. "What about Mom?" Sam wailed. "Mom's not fine—she's dead. A demon killed her, didn't it?"
Were there any details Dad spared in his journal? A gnawing pain filled Dean's stomach. Suddenly his father seemed far more like a coward than a hero.
"Yes, Sam, a demon did kill Mom. But I'm not going to let that happen to you. You hear me?"
A weary face met Dean's. "I just want to sleep."
With a sigh Sam crawled under the covers—not bothering to wait for Dean to tuck him in like he usually did. He never thought that the cruddy bed would provide more comfort than his brother. Turning towards the wall, Sam cried himself to sleep.
Perched at the end of Sam's bed, Dean waited for Sam's sniffles to subside. He needed to restore Sam's hope. He needed to give Sam a Christmas miracle. Dean had an idea. Without thinking to put a jacket on, Dean sprinted out the door.
"Rise and shine, Sammy!" Calloused hands shook an unwilling Sam into wakefulness. Sammy attempted to cling to the last vestiges of a demon-free dream. He clung to his pillow protectively, but Dean's tinselly voice forced him awake.
Blinking his eyes open, Sam sensed something was different. It took Sam seconds before his eyes made acquaintance with the Christmas tree. And what a grand tree it was. The branches were dressed with lights in every color of the rainbow. Festive ornaments dangled delicately from the tips of the branches. Presents wrapped in dazzling gold wrapping paper surrounded the base of the tree. The scent of Wal-Mart and Christmas spirit assailed Sam's nostrils. Sam wanted to cry with giddiness. Maybe last night and the contents of the dark journal was just a terrible nightmare.
Dean patted the tree proudly. "Did I tell you Dad was coming for Christmas or what?"
"Dad was here? Why did he let me sleep?
Dean's smile suddenly seemed phony. His fingers traced sloppy circles around his knees as he spoke. "D-Dad tried to wake you up like a thousand times."
Sam nodded in acceptance, he was a deep sleeper.
"Go on" Dean urged as he lead his brother to the tree. "Open your presents."
Sam didn't hesitate to tear the wrapping paper off the first present. His eyebrows furrowed in bewilderment.
"What is it?" Dean asked hopefully.
"Princess Barbie?" replied Sam in disbelief. "What does he think I'm a girl?"
"Dad probably did that as a joke" Dean assured him while handing Sam the next present. "Maybe you'll have better luck with this one."
Dean was probably right. Sam's normally cautious handling tore the wrapping paper open in hopes of a better present. Lip gloss. Something was definitely not right about this situation. Dad may not be around his boys frequently but he had to at least remember that he had boys. Unless…. The realization was so jolting Sam almost fell forward onto the carpet.
"Dad never came, did he?"
"Sure he did, Sammy!" replied Dean with less conviction than usual. His shoulders sagged under the weight of his lies. So much for giving Sam a Christmas he'd never forget.
"I stole the presents and tree from the house down the block. I swear I didn't know those were gonna be chick presents." Dean let out a long sigh. The Christmas spirit they had shared seemed to deflate like air leaving a busted balloon.
Sam scooted closer to Dean on the couch. He knew Dean meant well. Though their Christmas was dampened by their father's usual disappearing act they still had each other…Always.
Sam reached over and handed Dean the newspaper wrapped present that had been meant for Dad.
"Sammy, what are you doing? Isn't that Dad's present?"
Sam ignored Dean's protests. "No, Dean. Dad isn't here. But you are. Take it."
Dean opened the present hesitantly, not sure what was in the newspaper. Not sure if he should take something rightfully meant for Dad. All of Dean's doubts faded when he saw the gift. It was a kind of necklace, an amulet really. The gold carved face with horns on a black suede cord was both scary and soothing at the same time. Dean put the amulet around his neck. He had no intention of removing it anytime soon.