A Krampus Christmas Carol
Disclaimer: See chapter one.
A/N: I do emotional about as well as Dean does, so we'll see how this goes… Here is the final installment. Enjoy!
*THANK YOU* TO ALL WHO HAVE REVIEWED, FAVORITED, AND FOLLOWED!
The struggle back to the car seemed to take an achingly long time. Dean had carried Sam piggy-back style for about half the trudge before pain and exhaustion finally took hold of the youngest Winchester, and he was no longer aware enough to hold his own weight. Not wanting to aggravate his brother's lacerated back, Dean had tipped the kid over his shoulder in a fireman's carry. John had offered to help of course, but Dean declined, insisting his father take it easy after the knock to the head and the slash on his shoulder.
When they did finally make it back to the car, Dean opted to stay with his brother in the back rather than take his usual seat at shotgun. With John's help, they managed to maneuver Sam onto his side, facing the seat so his back wouldn't come into contact with the worn leather. Dean crawled into the car and cradled Sam's head protectively in his lap while threading his fingers through the shaggy brown locks.
The Impala roared to life with the heat on full blast for the lengthy drive to the next motel. John had briefly discussed returning to the rented house, but Dean had vetoed that idea immediately. Sam had been traumatized enough without returning to the place where he was attacked — his blood still staining the walls and bedding. John saw the logic in that and drove on through half the night, pulling up to a motel around 3am.
Although Sam had grimaced in pain every time the Impala struck a bump or pothole, he seemed to be resting comfortably through most of the trip. Dean watched the dark scenery fly past the passenger side of the car and reflected on how wrong this hunt had gone. He also thought forward to the morning. It was just another horrible Christmas in a long history of crappy holidays for the Winchesters. He wanted so badly to make this year a good memory for Sam, but had failed miserably.
John told Dean he was going to make a run back to the house to clear out their things and would be back in the morning. Dean was too exhausted to really care at that point, so John left as soon as the boys were checked into the motel.
Sam was awake enough by that time to walk inside without too much help. He removed Dean's coat and fell forward on the bed farthest from the door, ready to sleep. Well, that was until Dean finally got a good look at the lacerated skin on Sam's back and scolded him for not reporting how serious it was. The pain had to be excruciating. It took nearly an hour to clean and disinfect the various sized welts.
"How's that feel kiddo?" Dean asked once he'd applied the last bandage. Sam said nothing in response, but was clearly awake — eyes wide open and head turned to the side as he rested on his stomach. Dean saw a tear works its way from the corner of Sam's eye, around his nose, and onto the blanket beneath him. "Sammy?"
Sam pointed out to the nightstand between the two beds at the pad of paper with the motel letterhead and personalized pen. Dean handed the items to his brother and waited patiently as Sam wrote, an uneasy feeling gripping his chest. Sam handed the pad back to Dean.
Poison I think. Took my voice away.
Dean paused for a moment, at a complete loss for what to do. He thought back to the basics and retrieved a flask from his duffel bag. "Drink this Sam. It's holy water — might help to wash away the toxin."
Sam took the offered drink with some hesitation. He had seen the painful sensation the substance had on some types of supernatural creatures and wasn't exactly anxious to experience it first hand. After some encouragement from Dean, Sam took a long swig and rinsed it around his mouth before swallowing. The liquid felt like it got about halfway down his throat before he coughed it back up. There was no pain, he just wasn't able to swallow it — like something was blocking the pipe, but his breathing was just fine. Dean handed him a flavored sports drink and got the same result.
"I'm not sure what to do, Sam. We'll have to wait for Dad to get back. I'm sure he'll know what to do." Dean tried to reassure his brother, but Sam wasn't as optimistic. He scribbled some more words onto the paper.
What if this is permanent?
Dean took a deep breath. He didn't really have an answer for that and responded tiredly, "Don't think like that. We will figure this out. For now, let's get some sleep. You look like you nearly died tonight." Dean grinned as Sam flipped him the bird before climbing beneath his covers, careful not to disturb the injuries Dean had patched.
Dean habitually salted the door and windows and double-checked the heater setting before changing into a tee and sweats. He looked at Sam's sleeping form and just knew that tonight was going to be wrought with nightmares for the kid. Dean settled himself atop the comforter next to his brother and drifted to sleep within minutes.
*** SPN SPN SPN SPN ***
When Sam awoke the next day, the first thing he noticed was his dad's form nestled beneath the covers of the bed next to him. Beyond that though, was a sparkly glimmer and warm, comforting glow. He lifted his head from the pillow curiously.
A small decorated Christmas tree was sitting on the table next to the window. Below it rested several packages of various shapes and sizes, including the two presents that were wrapped in old newspaper clippings, addressed to Dad and Dean. Sam had scrimped and saved for months to get those and couldn't believe his father had found them in his room. When Krampus had taken him, he hadn't thought he'd ever see those again — or his brother and father for that matter.
As soon as Sam went to get up, he realized his brother's arm had been thrown across his side. For someone so against chick-flick moments, he sure did snuggle like a girl. Sam snickered and pushed the arm aside. He stood shakily and stumbled to the bathroom. He was still in a lot of pain and hoped the quivering in his limbs would end soon. When he emerged, he noticed that Dean was up and looking back at him from next to the tree.
"Heya, Sammy. How you feeling today?" Dean wanted to eat the words as soon as he said them, until Sam's automated response reached his ears.
"Fine." Sam's hands flew up to his throat in surprise. Although scratchy and weak, his voice had returned and the constant ache that had enveloped his esophagus was gone. He grabbed the open sports drink from the night before was able to swallow successfully. He drained the whole bottle and Dean could only laugh at the relief on his brother's face.
"What's with all the racket?" John's voice grumbled from beneath a pillow. There was a pause. "It's the middle of the afternoon, people are trying to sleep."
"Merry Christmas to you too, Grinch." Dean chirped. "If you were gonna bitch, why'd you get us a tree?"
John shot up from the covers with a speed Dean didn't know his father possessed as the older man looked suspiciously at the decorations. "You boys didn't do that last night?"
"Uh… no." Dean responded with a raised eyebrow and took a quick, subconscious step back from the tree and gifts.
"Its a Christmas miracle." Sam mumbled, suddenly feeling quite stupid for having said it aloud.
John looked at youngest in surprise before remembering what Dean had told him last night about how the encounter with Krampus ended. "You really do think Santa saved you, don't you Sam?"
"Yes, sir." Sam replied honestly, feeling a good decade younger.
John's forehead furrowed in concern, his paranoia wanting to take over the situation. His first thought was to burn the tree and presents, and drive his family as far from here as possible. There were several tense minutes of silence as John got up to check the door lock and all the salt lines. Everything was secure, and yet, here was this unexpected display of holiday spirit.
"Dad?" Dean asked hesitantly, knowing that they were probably going to bolt and end up spending Christmas on the road.
As John turned back from glancing out the window, a warm, comforting feeling of safety flooded through his veins. He couldn't deny the feelings of unease, but something deep within was loosening the tension and encouraging him that this was okay. The memory of last night's dream replayed through his mind — his and Mary's first Christmas — and he remembered the joy, happiness, and love they experienced. It was then that he knew, this was a miracle.
"How about… just this once, we won't question it." John's smile broadened as Dean and Sam looked at him with shocked expressions. "Alright boys, let's open some presents."
Happy Ending and Merry Krampus to everyone! :-)
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