Writer's Note: Okay I said yesterday but I decided to just edit the second part today!
Dean held off on pressing speed dial for a second as he looked at Kitty with dawning comprehension. This woman seems... insane...
Dean stepped out from his seat slowly, phone in hand, eyeing her warily. Kitty was not to be discouraged. She leaned forward in her seat, her posture that of a beggar's even though she continued her speech with emotional awe. She truly believed what she preached:
"Dean, the best gift Sam could ever give you is the one you're gonna see tonight," Kitty's eyes blazed up at Dean with excitement, "You're gonna to be so happy - free - for the first time in your entire life! And then... then you can be with me!" She was nodding her head with enthusiasm as she spoke, pure delight in her expression, convinced Dean would break into a smile with her at any moment.
Instead, a shot of adrenaline ran through him and and Dean pushed, '1,' on his speed dial, no longer worried about hiding his intentions from Kitty.
Kitty watched with growing understanding that Dean was not going along with her. She saw him hold the cell phone up to his ear, the fear in his eyes as he stared at her as if he was seeing her for the first time – and seeing nothing but ugliness and fanaticism. Kitty felt like he was crushing her soul with his gaze and her insecurities started to burst through her normally cool, calm, optimistic exterior.
"Dean-" Kitty cried pleadingly. Dean shook his head sharply and put his finger up to silence her.
"Shut up Kitty, I swear to God if you-"
But then he stopped. They both stopped moving.
Dean and Kitty turned around to look into the living room. Sam's ring tone was coming from the corner where the Christmas tree had been set up. The ornaments, soft lighting, tinsel and the beautifully wrapped gifts beneath the tree made that corner a picture perfect setting. Kitty had thought it could even possibly serve as a Happy Holidays card background when she had been setting it all up: "Happy Holiday Wishes! Love ~ Dean & Kitty."
She thought she wouldn't be able to get Sam alone in time that morning: the two of them were inseparable. But then her prayers had been answer: he'd shown up at her door step. He was practically already wrapped.
It was fate, serendipity, God that had delivered Sam to her door step. She and Dean were meant to be together and Sam was meant to die for them. She'd seen his surprised expression when she'd answered the door. She was glowing, thrilled, and had instantly made the promise that whatever divine force of benevolence that had provided Sam to her, she wouldn't disappoint. She would follow through and give Dean the life he deserved.
"SAM?!" Dean called out, ripping Kitty from her reverie. At the same time, he pulled out a gun and Kitty gasped, jumping out of the chair and accidentally knocking it over as she backed up against the kitchen wall.
"SAM?!" Dean bellowed again, listening carefully. Unable to figure it out, his eyes drilled into her.
"What did you do to him?" Dean asked, his tone deadlier than Kitty had ever thought possible. He was scaring her now; this man was a hero: he saved lives. He was her hero and now he was pointing a gun at her-?
"D-Dean…" She trembled, putting her hands out in supplication.
"WHERE IS HE?" Dean shouted as he aimed his gun.
"I'M SORRY!" Kitty screamed, bursting into tears. "I thought you wanted this," she sobbed as she crumpled in on herself, slowly sliding down the kitchen wall.
Dean watched, disgust and bewilderment intermingling. What had he gotten into? What the hell was going on?
In the blink of an eye, Dean set his priorities. First point of order was to remove the threat and while she didn't look it right now, Kitty was surely, completely, and utterly out of her mind.
Dean bit his lip, flashed a grimace, then furiously lowered his gun in favor of grabbing her arm.
"Dean! NO! DEAN!" She screamed as he lifted her five foot three petite frame bodily up off the floor and stumbled her back into the bathroom."Dean, what're you doing? -NO!" She screamed and sobbed as he pulled her up against the sink's exposed piping and pulled out a pair of handcuffs from his jacket.
Dean had had so many ideas about how he'd be using those cuffs that night, but this? This surely was not one of them.
He cuffed her tightly and Kitty, still bawling, started jangling the metal against the pipes weakly.
"Dean-" She choked with tears, staring up at him like he was breaking her heart. Dean's looked at her with disbelief, unnerved by the buckets of crazy happening right before his very eyes.
"Hey- HEY!" He shouted at her, directly in front of her face, and she fell short with her sobs, silenced by Dean's severe voice - his authoritative demand that brooked no room to disobey. Darkness seemed to consume him, Kitty realized.
...Perhaps that was why she was so attracted to him in the first place: perhaps it was why they seemed to, 'click,' so well so fast…
"Now I'm only going to ask you this once," he spoke quietly, threateningly, his expression ticking into a sneer of disgust. "Where is Sam?"
Kitty hiccupped a few times, but couldn't launch back into sobs as she was too mesmerized by the hatred she saw in Dean's eyes. Tears brimmed and her mouth trembled as she whispered her answer.
"He was your gift," she said softly, enunciating her words with haunting delicacy, then looked up slowly, timidly into his eyes.
She watched as the wheels of Dean's mind turned. His pupils already blown in the midst of his mounting panic, they widened with comprehension… And terror.
Dean bolted out of the bathroom, vaguely hearing Kitty resume her screams and shouts for Dean to come back. He ran into the living room and stopped in front of the beatific Christmas tree.
"SAM!" Dean shouted loudly. He heard nothing back as he appraised the gifts below and around the tree. His breath caught as caught sight of the wrapped corner of what could be a present – a very very large present - lodged next to the tree and behind the green sofa.
"Oh god," Dean murmured heavily as he jumped onto the sofa to get a better look at the, 'gift.'
It was a box, taller in height than it was in width or length. Its size could fit a body...
Dean didn't exactly pause, but he recognized the moment of horrific unreality facing him as he observed the "gift."
The box itself had not only been wrapped, but ribboned. A huge green bow was situated on top of the box, tie-streamers reaching down along every side and under the bottom. The wrapping paper featured a repeating image of Santa Claus merrily driving his sleigh across a bright red background. Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer's snout had been glue-glittered and as Dean walked around it, he noticed Rudolph's nose sparkling and reflecting the warm Christmas tree lights...
Dean didn't realize he was taking all these details in as he tore and ripped the wrappings apart, panicking at the thought of Sam suffocating inside… Or if he'd been too late.
He raged against the package, thinking about how he had been flirting and talking at the dinner table not six feet away while Sam may have been dying in a box behind the god damned couch. He swallowed a sob; his eyes began to tear as he finally ripped off the last of the deceptively cheery wrapping and tried to figure out how to open the wooden chest.
He slammed his palm against it.
"Sam! Sammy?!" He shouted, his voice cracking on the second call of affection.
Dean felt along the edges of the box, along the sides, trying to listen for any signs of life over his own heavy, stricken breathing. Suddenly he felt a crack and he desperately zeroed in on the line that eventually took him to a latch.
"SAMMY!" He shouted again and swallowed dryly, working the thing open.
With a few presses and turns of the latch (Sam would never have had a hope of jamming it open even with his legs), the lid popped up by a centimeter.
"Oh God," Dean gasped quietly as he slammed his hands against the heavy wooden lid of the box and opened it as far as it could go, his eyes widening as he immediately found Sam's hunched form leaning motionless against a wall of the compartment.
"SAM!" Dean cried, reaching inside and grabbing Sam's contorted body to twist him around.
Dean nearly started crying as he surveyed Sam's bruised face and neck, terrified that Sam was dead. He leaned in closer, bending over the rim of the box and jammed his fingers into Sam's neck for his pulse.
"Sammy wake up!" He whispered as he felt for the beat... Complete silence in Dean's mind: all senses tunneling to find that pulse of life.
It was weak, but it was there. Dean allowed himself to breathe.
Sam still wore his suit from earlier that day minus the suit jacket; his white shirt stained with blood and dirt from having scratched, punched, or otherwise attempting to escape the box – his prison - for what must've been hours.
"SAMMY!" Dean cried one last time. "C'MON! WAKE UP!" He shouted, hoping to God Sam wasn't so injured that he'd remain unconscious.
Suddenly, it took: Sam jerked in reaction to Dean's sharp tone and his eyes opened.
"Sam!" Dean breathed in relief, watching Sam start to move around inside, "Sammy! Sammy - hey!" He coached, framing Sam's head to look up into his eyes. Sam's pupils rolled for a second, but soon focused on Dean.
"Hey," Dean nearly cried with joy, smiling brilliantly at Sam.
"Dean," Sam murmured, looking at his brother. "She-" he gulped, closing his eyes, "She poisoned me-" Sam's voice quivered and Dean leaned in closer to his brother, bracing his face so he had no choice but to look up at him. Sam opened his eyes again.
"Sammy, don't worry about that right now, okay? I gotchya, okay? You understand?" Dean asked, his eyes searching Sam's face. Sam blinked and nodded, disoriented. Dean moved a hand down to Sam's neck, keeping his reassuring touch on Sam because, frankly, Dean needed to feel his brother alive and conscious for just a bit longer.
"Okay … Yeah, we're okay," Dean repeated to Sam just as much as he needed to hear it. Sam kept his eyes on Dean, nodding in agreement despite this nightmare having come to life.
They stayed there like that - Dean whispering to Sam as they both just settled and melted into Dean's own words.
"You're safe, Sammy, I got you, we're together, it's over…"
Sam started to cringe. Dean carded his hand through Sam's hair. Despite, or perhaps because of Dean's words, Sam felt tears start to well up in his eyes under Dean's gentle touches.
Sam's voice was raw, gravelly, but he reached out to Dean as he spoke. A flash memory of Sam as a child reaching up to Dean for him to pick him up flashed before his eyes as he stared into the box Sam was still inside.
"Dean, last thing I remember was running out of oxygen–" Sam choked out as Dean had immediately grabbed Sam's outstretched arms and leaned in further to grab his kid around his back. Dean felt Sam's head fall onto his shoulder as he weakly wrapped his arms around him.
"I thought I was dying... I-I thought I was dead," Sam's body shuddered in time with his sobs as Dean stayed still for a second, hovering over the box's wall during their embrace.
"You're not dead, Sam, I got you," Dean reassured with a tragic, small smile. He gripped Sam's back and Sam returned the pressure. "Okay ready? One, two, three," and Dean hoisted Sam out, making the box fall to the side as Sam's limp but heavy legs caught the edge.
Sam gasped in pain from the movement; his stiff, cramped joints shooting pins and needles through his body.
Dean pulled Sam over and dragged him away, eventually settling on the floor, his brother still holding onto him. Dean returned the embrace tightly, pushing Sam up higher against him so Sam's head could lean further onto his shoulder and against his neck. They both needed this moment.
"I'm so sorry," Sam whispered, his body trembling from weakness and exhaustion. Dean clamped down on him tighter, trying to stop the shakes that wracked through his little brother.
"It's not your fault, Sam, it's okay, you couldn't have known," Dean replied consolingly, pressing his hand against the back of Sam's head, running it through his brother's hair. "You couldn't have known," he repeated, and felt Sam shake with a sob.
"Dean," Sam paused for a second, gathering strength in his vocal chords, "I love you," he barely whispered.
Sam's voice was like gravel but his tone was pleading. His soft cries continued after that but he'd sent Dean over the edge. Overwhelmed with the panic and desperation of having almost just lost his little brother, Dean found tears of relief and released fear and adrenaline falling as he pushed Sam impossibly closer to him.
"I love you, too, Sammy," he whispered back, rubbing Sam's back, his voice pitched. Dean leaned in and gave Sam a quick kiss against his temple.
He pulled away from Sam for a second to move the two of them back further against the couch. They settled again, huddled together on the warm, carpeted floor. They spoke when they could manage it but for the most part Dean just rocked back and forth.
Sam started to regain circulation in his limbs and Dean kept him together as Sam suffered the agony quietly in his arms. Dean couldn't hear Kitty in the bathroom any more - she was likely quietly sobbing in the bathroom... Dean didn't care. It was just the two of them at this moment.
Soon, they would have to call the cops, maybe 9-1-1. But for the time being, Sam and Dean remained still and close in the middle of the festive living room of Kitty Higgins' modest two-bedroom apartment.
Lit only by softly blinking yellow-white Christmas tree lights, surrounded by beautifully wrapped presents, Christmas-themed placemats on the pure white wooden coffee table nearby, Sam and Dean hung on to each other.
For all the intended warmth and generosity this heavily-adorned, carefully cultivated, living room evoked, it was actually the brothers themselves that best represented these virtues.
Writer's Note: The end! Thank you so much for reading! Please review/comment if you can spare the time! ~ Alex