First Steps

by kellyofsmeg

Summary: Two weeks after his first birthday, Sammy took his first steps. Somewhat fluffy Weechester fic. A teeny bit of angst. GoodFather!John. One shot. Based on an entry from John Winchester's Journal.

Disclaimer: Supernatural and its characters are not mine.

May 16, 1984

Cherokee, Iowa

John Winchester was elbow-deep in loose-leaf paper, national newspapers and dusty old books. He was preparing for his next hunt, which was really more of an ongoing investigation. The Midwestern states were a hotbed for supernatural activity, and he'd found an affordable, furnished rental house that put himself and his boys smack in the middle of it all.

This meant that, for now at least, Sam and Dean had a house with an enclosed yard to play in instead of being cooped inside a dank motel room all day. They had the stability of getting to sleep in the same bed for more than two consecutive nights, even if they did still have to share a room. The carpets were also clean enough for Sammy to crawl on, something John had never found in any motel. John also was only a day trip away in all directions from the cases he was investigating. All in all, it was a good setup. He planned on staying as long as he could. Maybe another month; he was nervous about staying in the same place too long, worried about the things that might catch up to them. If he'd learned anything from Vietnam, it was that the best way to avoid being struck by the enemy was not to be a sitting duck.

Sitting in a small room off the kitchen area that was more of a closet than a study, John leaned forward, putting his elbows on the worn oak desk as he perused The La Crosse Tribune. The small Wisconsin news press had been reporting stories of several strange and vicious dog attacks that had caught his attention. All of the canines in question had been black, and witnesses (if there were any viable) all recalled seeing the dogs vanish into thin air. This raised a red flag to the new hunter that these were no ordinary dog attacks. Ever since he'd found that canine tooth in Julie's body, and seen Mary's uncle Jacob torn to shreds by some invisible beast at that cemetery in Eureka, John had been exhaustively researching the origins of spectral black dogs from any source he could get his hands on. Apart from wanting to find out what had killed Julie and Jacob, John was hoping his investigation might lead him to clues about what happened to Mary. All three of them had died within weeks of each other. There had to be some sort of connection...

So far, John had learned that these dogs were nocturnal apparitions, associated with hell hounds and the devil—larger than a normal dog with luminous, glowing eyes, and were always black. They were associated with electrical storms, crossroads, places of execution, ancient pathways and graveyards. Some were said to have two heads and the ability to change their size and appearance. There weren't many reported cases in the United States, with most of the sightings being reported in England and Scotland. Most believed them to be an omen of death and ill-fortune, more optimistic people believed they were helpful, leading travelers to safety and protecting them from harm. Ha.

John's plan had been to drop Dean and Sammy off at his friend Jim Murphy's place in Blue Earth, Minnesota while he went to La Crosse to interview a few witnesses. He planned on dropping the boys off early that morning and returning that same night, the next morning at the latest. Just as he'd been loading the boys into the Impala, Jim had called and told John that an emergency had come up and he had to go perform an exorcism a few towns away. The Pastor said he didn't know how long it would take, and asked if John could postpone his trip and drop the boys off on Thursday morning instead. John reluctantly agreed, offering to help Jim if he needed it. But that still left the problem of who would watch the boys—John, understandably, didn't want his young sons anywhere near someone who needed an exorcism. So John stayed home, unloaded the car, plonked the boys in front of the TV, and decided to do a bit more research.

Realizing it had been awhile since either of his sons called on him, John looked up from his book and listened for them, staring at the wood-paneled wall in front of him, covered in newspaper clippings, Polaroids, maps, police and coroner's reports, and red string tacked to various sources, linking them. The door was left ajar so he could hear them, but the only sound he could hear was a voice from the TV, saying, "I held aloft my magic sword and said, 'By the power of Greyskull! I have the power!'"

John smiled to himself. Dean and Sammy loved He-Man. He always found it to be moderately entertaining when he watched it, too—or at least more tolerable than the mind-numbing kiddy shows Sammy liked. The VHS the boys were currently watching was full of episodes recorded off the TV. The three of them had watched it countless times, and the boys never tired of it. Dean knew every word, and would re-enact scenes with Sammy, always making him be the Man-at-Arms. Sometimes Dean would pretend to be Cringer and let little Sammy ride on his back as he crawled along on all fours.

"Boys," John called, deciding it was a bit too quiet. "Everything okay in there?"

"Yeah, daddy!" he heard five-year-old Dean call after a pause, first having to shake himself from his TV-induced stupor.

"You boys need anything?"

"No, we're good," Dean answered in a distracted rush, afraid of missing even one line of the dialog he already knew by heart.

John checked his watch—it was a good hour before the boys would be wanting lunch. Satisfied that Dean and Sammy were happy and entertained, John returned to his research. The last book he'd picked out turned out to be a goldmine; a trove of information and lore that he'd never come across before. He found himself becoming deeply immersed in the book, his eyes rapidly scanning each page, drinking it in—his hand furiously taking scribbled notes without looking away from the volume. Within half an hour John was in a full-on trance and it took several frantic cries of, "Daddy!" from Dean to break John's focus enough to hear him.

"Yeah, Dean?" John called back, still staring down at the page and trying to hold onto his last thought.

"Daddy, come quick!"

John sighed. Why was it the boys never needed him when he was ready to take a break from researching? They always seemed to catch him when he was in the zone. "What is it, Dean?"

"Daddy, you've got to see this!"

John stared down at his book, finding it hard to tear himself away. There was more than a good chance that Dean just wanted to show him another one of his "very most favoritest parts" in the show; John had already been interrupted three times that morning for such occasions, watching with a bemused expression as Dean acted out the scene onscreen along with the characters, complete with air sword-swinging motions and speaking along with the characters, egged on by his little brother, who would giggle with delight at his brother's spot-on performance. The kid could charge for admission.

"Is it important?" John called back, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his palms.

"Yeah, daddy!" Dean's excitement was palpable—"Sammy's gonna walk!"

John dropped everything and was up and on his feet in a nanosecond, racing into the living room so fast he almost skidded into an end table, narrowly avoiding sending the lamp crashing to the floor. Dean was crouched on the carpet, and sure enough, a few feet away from him, one-year-old Sammy was standing upright on his own, not even holding onto the edge of the coffee table for support.

His heart racing, John cast his eyes about the room for a camera, before remembering it was down the hall in his room. Not wanting to risk missing Sammy's first steps by going to retrieve it, John dropped to his knees, beaming in encouragement at his youngest son. "Come on, Sammy!"

Sammy lifted his head and looked at John, giving him a wide, albeit strained smile from the physical exertion he was putting himself through just to remain upright on his own.

"Yeah, come on, Sammy—you can do it!" Dean cheered him on.

John and Dean watched with bated breath as Sammy's face turned serious as he concentrated on the task at hand, willing his little legs to move forward. His arms raised at his sides in an effort to balance himself. He lifted his foot up, lost his balance and fell backwards, landing on his diaper-cushioned bottom. Sammy flapped his little arms in frustration, letting out an agitated cry.

"So close, Sammy!" John said, sharing in his son's disappointment, but still remaining encouraging. He knew his youngest was so stubborn that if he'd decided today was the day he was going to walk, then he was. It might just take a few more tries.

"You almost did it, Sammy!" Dean smiled, "You'll get it next time!"

"Come on, kiddo. Brush it off," John said, extending his hands out. Bolstered by his family's encouragement, Sammy grasped John's much larger hands, using them to help pull himself up. John picked Sammy up and turned him around so that he was facing Dean, holding onto his sides to steady him. "You've got this, Sammy. Walk to Dean, okay? I'm gonna let go now..."

Dean, still crouched on one knee, opened his arms wide to receive his little brother. "Come on, Sammy!"

The one-year-old lifted his right foot up and set it down a couple of inches in front of his left foot. Dean and John watched Sammy's slow advance as if it was a highly-intense, exciting sporting event. Sammy raised his left foot, smiling happily as he realized he was doing it—he was walking! One teetering step and then another...he was making it on his own towards his brother, he was—

Then Sammy misstepped, accidentally lowering one foot on top of the other, effectively tripping himself. John foresaw what was about to happen and reached out for Sammy, unfortunately not fast enough to save Sammy from falling flat on his face. His head made a dull clunk! sound on impact, muffled by the carpet.

After a brief second of stunned silence from all present, the little boy began to scream in pain. John hurriedly scooped his baby up into his arms, surveying the damage as Dean crowded in on his side, wrapping his arms around his dad and Sammy. The little boy's face was red and already streaked with tears as he sobbed—his little nose and forehead were especially red from hitting the floor.

"Shh shh's alright, Sammy," John murmured comfortingly, brushing Sammy's bangs back from his sore forehead, which John lightly kissed. He rocked Sammy back and forth in his arms. "I know it hurts right now, little man, but you'll be alright..."

"Yeah, Sammy!" Dean chimed in, hugging his brother. "Your head will stop hurting now. Mommy always said kisses make things stop hurting quicker." He pressed a kiss onto Sammy's forehead too. For good measure.

John's heart clenched at the mention of Mary...that she had missed Sammy's first steps—the day before what would have been their sixth anniversary, too. He liked to think that Mary was still here somehow, and had seen her baby's first steps...

"You can't be sad now, Sammy—you just took your first steps," Dean said the words with reverent awe. "That means you're not a baby anymore."

John wasn't quite ready for the idea of Sammy no longer being a baby (or for either of his boys to grow up, for that matter) but he kept the thought to himself, instead holding both of his boys closer, wishing Mary was with them, too...

Sammy's cries were settling down to low whimpers, his tears dried up from wiping his face on John's shirt front. The comfort of both John and Dean helped to expedite what would have ordinarily been a much larger (and longer) meltdown. The pain in his nose and forehead subsided, but the youngest Winchester didn't seem ready to try again yet, content by being held by his dad and brother.

"Daddy?" Dean's voice was muffled against his flannel shirt sleeve.

"Hmm?" John vocalized, still staring proudly down at Sammy, stroking his round little cheek with his thumb.

"Remember when Sammy started crawling, and you had to put all those covers over the outlets, and I wasn't allowed to leave my LEGO's on the floor anymore?"

"Yeah, buddy. I remember."

"Well, now that Sammy's started walking, he's gonna be able to reach a lot higher," Dean stated, holding his hand up at Sammy-level. "He'll be able to reach this high," he extended the height to roughly Sammy's arm length.

"I see what you're getting at," said John, staring around the living room. "We're going to have to change a few things around here. Ready for a trip to the hardware store, pal?"

"Yeah!" Dean exclaimed enthusiastically, pulling back and throwing his arms in the air.

"That's my boy," said John affectionately, ruffling Dean's mop-top blonde hair.


Later that day...

John was just finishing up putting a lock on the cabinet under the sink containing kitchen chemicals when the phone rang. John glanced into the living room to check on the boys, where he found Sammy and Dean playing with Jenga blocks on the floor, making what looked like a garage for their Hot Wheels. He picked up the receiver from the wall. "Hello?"

"Hi, John. Sorry again about canceling this morning—"

"It's okay, Jim. Really," said John placidly. "I'm actually glad the plans fell through. Otherwise it would've been you witnessing Sammy's first steps instead of me."

"Really?" Jim exclaimed, his excitement clear over the phone. "That's great, John! If you thought you had your hands full before..."

"Yeah, I know. God help me," John chuckled, gazing fondly at his boys across the room, playing amicably with each other. "How'd the exorcism go?

"As well as could be hoped for," Jim sighed. "Young girl, just turned sixteen. Worst case I've seen in a long time. She had the head-turning, crab-walking, projectile vomiting—the works. The demon resisted me with all it had. But she's freed from the evil spirit now and restored to her family."

"That's good," said John. "I still need to tag along on one of those sometime. When I can find someone else I trust to watch the boys."

"Of course. Listen, John—if you want to bring them up tonight instead of tomorrow morning, if we both start driving within the hour we can probably meet at the church by eight—"

"No, ah, it's alright, Jim," said John, stifling a yawn. "It can wait till morning—I actually have Dean helping me out with a little project right now."

"Oh?" Jim's interest piqued. "What's that?"

"He's watching his little brother while I Sammy-proof the house," John laughed at the term Dean had come up with. "I figured now that he's walking, he'll be getting into a whole lot more trouble."

Jim laughed good-naturedly. "I'm sure you can manage anything little Samuel has to throw at you."

"I hope so," said John sincerely. "Well, Jim. Thanks for everything—see you bright and early tomorrow morning?"

"Yes," Jim responded. "I supposed that will give me time to Sammy-proof my house and the church as well."

"Good idea, Jim," John chuckled. "We'll see you tomorrow. Take care of yourself."

"You too, John. And the boys. Goodnight."

With that, the Pastor hung up. John opened the microwave, retrieving a plate of reheated leftovers from the night before—KFC chicken and mashed potatoes. "Right, boys—who's ready for dinner?"

The proud father beamed as his five year old son ran into the kitchen, and his little brother tottered in after him on increasingly steady legs.


Author's Notes: This story is based off this entry from John Winchester's Journal:

May 17, 1984

This would have been our sixth anniversary. Six is iron. Sammy took his first steps yesterday. He walked toward Dean, then fell flat on his face and started crying. Life is tough, kid. Do I sound like a proud dad? I am.

I hope you enjoyed! I love reviews... :)