By Ridley C. James, December 2005
Rating: T, just to be safe, but
Disclaimer: Sorry, I have never been
that good in my entire life, so I don’t see Santa stuffing the boys
down my chimney any time soon. Nothing Supernatural belongs to me.
Eleven year-old Dean Winchesterwas
bringing in some fire wood from the old sagging back porch when he
His breath quickened, sending puffy
white clouds of frozen condensation into the air, and he nearly slipped
on the icy planks as he rushed to get back inside with his heavy load.
At first, his young mind conjured the
obvious Winchester disaster. Something had finally found them.
Just like in his really bad dreams,
the monster who had taken his mother was back again to finish what it
had started six years before. A little part of him was always expecting
it to come back. One day he knew that it would.
But then he heard his father's deep,
booming voice more clearly and it wasn't fear he had detected. He'd
heard his dad scared before, and this was different. It was another
familiar emotion that he'd grown accustomed to, especially since the
calendar had once again rolled around to November and beyond.
It was anger he heard wrapped around
every harsh word his dad was shouting and Dean wasn't sure if that was
better than fear or much worse.
The pre-teen braced himself for
whatever had roused the sleeping beast and opened the back door of the
old abandoned farm house that they were currently staying in.
John hadn't explained how exactly
they knew the family that owned it, but he'd told the boys that it was
theirs for as long as they needed it.
Dean really hoped that wasn't going
to be too long.
The two-story house was practically
falling down around them and even a kid could understand why any
normalfamily would up and leave the old place.
Still, he supposed it was better than
the truck, especially since the winters in West Virginia were a lot
colder than they had been on the West coast, where the Winchester's had
spent the last two Holiday seasons.
The only good thing was the snow-Sam
was so excited about the snow.
“Do you understand me, young man?”
Dean stepped into the kitchen in time to see his father grab his
younger brother by the shoulders and give him a hard shake. “Don't ever
let me hear you say anything like that again!”
The warmth of the room was almost
suffocating in his adrenaline charged state, and Dean felt bile rise in
the back of his throat as a rush of feelings washed over him.
“Dad?” He tossed the firewood beside
the stone fireplace and took a step towards his brother. “What's going
He had never seen his father look
quite so angry, especially when talking to Sam.
Dean was sure he had made a point of
telling his kid brother to play quietly because their dad had a
headache. Sam had been drawing when he'd gone outside.
Sure, he'd gotten a little
sidetracked by the deer he'd seen in the field behind the old barn, but
he hadn't been gone long enough for Sammy to get into too much trouble.
Sam never got in trouble.
But the terrified look that his kid
brother shot him said otherwise.
“It doesn't concern you.” John didn't
even glance at Dean as he roughly reached up and took hold of Sam's
chin, forcing his son's pale face back to his line of sight. This
wasn't a time when he'd give in to Dean's coddling. “Do you understand
Dean couldn't quite explain the panic
that overcame him, as he watched fat, miserable tears fall from Sam's
large, scared eyes. He'd always felt protective of his little brother,
but he had never felt at odds with his own father because of it. That
was, until now.
John was always right about things,
knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what was best for their family. He'd
saved them all, numerous times. Dean worshipped the man, but something
in that moment demand that hequestion that authority.
He mustered all the bravado that any
pre-teen could manage. “He understands, Dad. Let him go.”
Dean was almost along side Sam now.
He kept his eyes on his father though, the commandment to never ever
take your eyes from the enemy ringing hollow in his mind, stirring up
that sick feeling in the pit of his stomach again.
“I wasn't talking to you!” A dark,
angry gaze fell on Dean and he almost faltered a step, wondering
momentarily if his father had been possessed by some evil thing while
Because even when he was angry, John
was gentle. Never vile, never cruel. Of course Christmas was always
bad, memories too painful to cover with eggnog and turkey chose to rear
So, John had to resort to something a
little stronger to take the edge off.
“I'm sorry,” Sam choked out, his eyes
moving from John to Dean. “I didn't mean it.”
John let go of him suddenly, almost
causing the little boy to stumble.
Holding up a piece of crumpled paper
in his large hand, he shook his head disapprovingly. “You should be
sorry, Sam.” With that, he tossed the paper into the angry orange and
red flames of the fire behind him.
Sam watched the white and green
drawing blister and then dissolve into a pile of black ash, before he
turned and ran as fast as his small legs would take him up the rickety
Dean waited until he heard the
bedroom door slam upstairs before facing his father again. “Dad, why
were you yelling at Sammy? He's just a baby.” If he could understand
that, couldn’t his father. Sam could drive him crazy sometimes, always
tagging along, pestering him for something-but he never treated him
like John just had.
“Don't raise your voice at me, young
man.” John raked a trembling hand through his dark hair and brought his
still smoldering gaze to his oldest son.
“I'm sorry, Dad. I just want to know
what's wrong.” So I can try and fix it.
Some of the anger faded from John's
face and he seemed to deflate before Dean's very eyes. “Do you remember
your mother, Dean?” John was still on his knees and the way he
whispered the words so desperately reminded Dean very much of a prayer.
Dean’s throat felt constricted and
his voice had ran scared, so he only nodded.
“She was the best mom that a boy
could have had.” John said the words so fiercely that Dean took a step
back, but not before he caught the faint scent of alcohol on his
father's breath. “Don't ever forget that, son!” He took hold of the boy
and squeezed his slim shoulders. “Never forger her, Dean!”
“I won’t.” The anger still hiding in
his father’s eyes kept Dean from mentioning the fact that he could only
remember small things about his mother.
He remembered the way that she
smelled, her smile, her laugh. But what he remembered most was the way
she hugged him each morning. It was as if it had been months since
she’d seen him last, even though in realityit’d only been one night,
and she wanted to make sure that Dean knew how much she hadmissed him.
Sometimes, when she hugged him like
that, Dean imagined that she left just a little bit of herself all
wrapped up in him.
John let him go, his big hands
falling limply at his sides. He looked defeated, instead of reassured.
Dean would have done anything to remove that look from his face. But he
didn’t know how.
“Go check on your brother.”
The words were flat, and Dean grasped
onto them like a life-line. Taking care of Sammy was something he knew
how to do. This other stuff with his dad, he had no idea how to handle.
What kid would?
Without saying another word to his
father, Dean took off up the stairs. John watched him go, shakily
getting to his feet once his oldest son was out of sight.
He made his way to the fire and
leaned his head against the cool stones of the mantle. So many times
he’d stood watching the fire in this very room, waiting for his own
father to come home from his job in the mines-sometimes with
anticipation, but most nightswith trepidation.
Tonight, he’d acted like that man
he’d spent so many years hating, and so many years longing to love.
He’d seen himself as a boy, reflected in the scared eyes of his
How could one become the thing they
feared and despised the most?
Grief. Anger. That’s how.
Those were the very things that drove
his father. As far as John knew, they probably still did. They were the
emotions that drove the man’s son from his side. And now, he was
repeating the pattern, starting down a path he swore he’d never take.
Mary had promised that she’d help him
be the father that John wanted so badly to be, and for five years he
was. He played ball with Dean, he read him stories, he held him when he
was scared or sick, he gave him hugs and kisses-things he, himself, had
always been denied- and he never let rage cause him to strike out at
his innocent children. But then Mary was gone. He was alone.
And now, John had to be a parent
Maybe that’s why he was so afraid to
be a father to Sam. He couldn’t trust himself.
He raised his eyes and looked up the
staircase, imagining his two boys in the old room where he’d spent so
many years of his own childhood.
John might not have trusted the man
his father raised, but he trusted Mary’s son. He trusted Dean.
Dean could hear the quiet sobs even
as he opened the door. It never failed to amaze him that when his kid
brother was upset he would escape to the very places that he feared the
Sometimes he worried that Sam was
The pre-teen sighed heavily and sat
down on the dusty floor beside the double bed that the two brothers had
been sharing since coming to the farmhouse.
“Sammy? You under there?”
Not only was the crying a dead
giveaway, but the white and blue Converses sticking out from one corner
pretty much confirmed Sam’s hiding place. Still, Dean played their game.
“No,” came the expected reply.
“Santa knows when you’re lying,
One good thing about the Holidays
that Dean had discovered was the convenient bargaining chip that Jolly
Old St. Nick made. He could get Sam to do almost anything he wanted
from Halloween on just by threatening a quick call to the chubby guy.
It was amazing, and sad that the Easter Bunny didn’t have the same
Unfortunately, tonight, his tactic
seemed to backfire and the crying increased and grew louder.
“Great,” Dean mumbled. He really
should have insisted on the nap earlier that day. “Sam, please come
“No. Daddy hates me.”
The older Winchester leaned down and
peered under the bed. “That’s not true. Dad could never hate you, Sam.
He loves you too much.” Of that, Dean was sure.
No matter what John Winchester did or
said to the contrary, he loved Sam fiercely.
Almost as much as Dean did.
Sam lifted his head from where he’d
buried it beneath a blanket he’d pulled under the bed with him. His
tear-filled brown eyes met Dean’s and he wiped the back of his hand
across his runny nose. “Not anymore. He thinks I’m bad.”
If Sam could have only realized how
ridiculous those words were, Dean’s life would have been much easier.
Sam had never been bad. Even as a baby, he hardly ever cried, and since
getting older his worst crime consisted of writing on a motel roomwall
with a marker.
“Do you hate me, too?”
The whispered words startled Dean out
of his thoughts and he reached his arm under the bed and wrapped his
hand around Sam’s wrist. “I could never hate you Sam, no matter what.”
Sam’s lower lip quivered and he took
a quick shuddering breath. “Promise?”
Dean did the only thing he could do.
If Sam wouldn’t come out, he’d just have to go in, or under, as it were.
The older boy laid down and wiggled
his much larger form under the bed. Once there, he could barely turn on
his side to face Sam without his shoulder hitting the metal box springs
that were only inches from his face.
“I promise, Sammy.” He looked the
little boy in the eyes. “And Dad doesn’t hate you either.”
Sam propped himself onone elbow and
pushed the ever-present strands of blond hair out of his eyes. “I
didn’t mean to make him mad.”
“What happened, Sammy?”
The six year-old shrugged. He wanted
to tell his big brother everything so that Dean could make things
better. Dean was good at that, but he didn’t want to risk making him
upset like he had their dad.
“I drawed a picture for Santa, and
wrote him a letter.”
Dean looked at his brother in the dim
light that their hiding space allowed. He could always tell if Sam was
lying or leaving out something important. “And?”
Sam sighed. Dean always knew when he
wasn’t telling the complete truth. “And I read it to Daddy.” Sam’s eyes
filled again. “He pushed me off his lap and took my letter.”
Dean frowned, not understanding what
could have upset their father. Dean had explained to Sam that Santa and
his elves were short on supplies this year. He’d told the little boy
that he could only ask for a few things, so as not to make the big guy
feel bad-make that both big guys. “What did you ask for?”
Maybe Sam hadn’t understood.
Sam bit his lip and stared at his
“I won’t get mad. Just tell me.”
“I asked for an Optimist Prime, and a
book, and…,” he paused, and then rushed on, as if he just wanted to get
the worst over with, “…and a new Mommy.”
At the soft words, Dean’s heart felt
as if it had just dropped to his feet, bounced hard, and was now lodged
painfully in his throat. “Oh, Sam.”
No wonder their dad had freaked.
“I never had a Mommy, Dean,” Sam
rushed to explain as he watched a look he recognized as disappointment
settle on his brother’s face. “I want one. I want one for you, too. I
know you miss our old mom.”
“Sam, she’s our only mom. We can’t
have another one. Just her.”
Tears sprung to the brown eyes once
more and Dean fought hard to get control of his own feelings. He
lowered his voice. “I know that you don’t understand, but Santa can’t
bring you a new mom.” God, what was the kid thinking?
“But Kelly said if you were good that
Santa would bring you whatever you asked for. I was good, Dean. I was
good mostly all year.” Didn't Dean understand? All Sam wanted was what
other kids already had. How much work was it to find a mom when there
were tons of them already around.
Dean sighed. Kelly was a little girl
in the Kindergarten class that Sam had started the school year with. To
hear his kid brother tell it, she knew everything. “I know you were
really good, Sam. You didn’t do anything wrong, it just isn’t going to
Sam frowned. “Then why did Daddy get
so mad at me?”
“Because he loved Mom.He can’t forget
about her. He doesn’t want us to ever forget about her either.”
Sam shook his head. “But I never
The small confession hit Dean like a
punch in the stomach. Just once couldn’t things be easy. He licked his
lips, and blinked away the stinging sensation filling his eyes. “I
know, but she loved you, Sam. I remember that." How could he make his
"She use to hold you all the time,
and she sang to you, and when you cried she always looked so sad.”
“Really?” Sam scooted closer to his
brother, the way he did when Dean would tell him adventurous stories at
night. “What else, Dean? What else do you remember?”
Dean thought for a minute, giving
himself time to make sure his voice was steady. “She was real pretty,
and she smelled good-like daisies and sunshine.” If Dean could have
closed his eyes and concentrated really hard, he was sure he could have
caught her soft scent right then. “And she laughed-a lot.”
Dean nodded. “Yeah, Sam, just like
A frown marred his little brother’s
features again, a sure sign that he was thinking, and that more than
likely he was going to ask Dean something that wasn’t going to be easy
to answer. “Why did our mom die?”
Dean knew it. But hedidn’t know what
to say. A sudden urge of anger rose up out of no where and was directed
entirely at their father. Damn him.
John never talked to them about their
mom, and Dean had just followed his lead, never realizing what it was
doing to Sam.
He decided to say the only thing he
could. “I don’t know, Sammy.”
Sam’s face fell and Dean reached out
and squeezed his arm. “But she’s still your mom, our mom. Her dying
didn’t change that. She didn’t leave us, just because she’s gone.”
The words didn’t make much sense even
to his much older self, but Sam seemed to understand them. Maybe he
wasn’t just listening with his ears.
“Will Daddy forgive me?”
Dean ruffled Sam’s hair, letting out
the breath he’d been holding. “I bet he already has.” Another storm had
The six year-old smiled, a real
smile- dimples, missing front tooth, and all.
“If you come out from under the bed
now, I’ll help you write a new letter to Santa.”
“Sure” Dean thought about their mom.
“I could even read you a story. Any one you want.”
Dean rolled his eyes. He’d read that
story about a hundred times in the few weeks since Sam’s teacher had
given it to the Kindergartener as a going away present. “Okay.”
“Deal.” All thoughts of the argument
with their father seemed to disappear and Dean found himself blocking a
flurry of knees and elbows as Sam crawled over him in his rush to get
out from under the bed.
Sam was already on top of the
mattress, book in hand, before his older brother even emerged from
beneath the frame. “Dean?”
Dean took a moment to knock the dust
bunnies from his hair and his clothes before glancing up at Sam. “Yeah?”
“Did you ever write Santa a letter?”
The older boy sat down on the bed
beside of Sam and stretched his legs out. “I did once when I was just a
little younger than you. Mom helped me write it.”
Sam’s eyes widened. “What’d you ask
A slow smile touched Dean's lips. He
remembered vividly the look that his mother had given him when he‘d
told her what to write. “A little brother.”
“And Santa brought you me.” Sam
looked amazed. “You must have been really good back then.”
“I had my moments.”
Sam thought for a minute, looking
down at the book and then back to his brother. “Could I ask for a
Dean’s smile faded. “No. I think he’s
probably out of those for our family, Sammy.”
Dean snorted. “Why would we want one
Sam nodded seriously. “Right, girls
are gross-well, except for Kelley.”
Dean shook his head. “How about you
just stick with the Transformer?”
The six year-old sighed heavily.
“Okay, but after all this, I can’t promise that I’ll be so good next
Dean laughed and threw his arm around
Sam, the sudden scent of sunshine and daisies filling the space between
them. An image of his mom holding him so that he could kiss a baby Sam
goodnight sprung to his mind, and he pulled his little brother into a
The kind of hug that said he might
have missed him like he’d been gone for months.
The kind of hug that left just a
little bit of himself all wrapped up in Sam.
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