Characters: Sam, Dean, John
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural except in my dreams where schmoop abounds.
Warnings: Those of you who think John Winchester was a good father doing the best he could under terrible circumstances may not like my portrayal. He's not deliberately cruel, but he is negligent and he treats his sons as though they are soldiers, not little boys. Just remember this story is AU and Sammy knows what his daddy does at a much younger age than canon Sammy.
Word Count: ~2,900
Summary: Sammy has just figured out that life isn't fair for his older brother, Dean. He wishes there was some way he could help. When his wish comes true their lives are changed forever. AU hurt/sick!Dean protective!Sam Wee!chester
I Wish I was a Growed Up
Chapter 1 The Wish
Sammy is smart for his age, at least that's what Daddy says and he supposes Daddy would know, 'cause he's a grown up and he's Daddy and Daddy knows everything.
The thing is...Daddy's not around very much and when he is, he's distracted. He has little time to spare for either of his children, neither 4 year old Sammy nor 8 year old Dean.
But Sammy's not complaining, 'cause he has his older brother, Dean, to help him and take care of him when Daddy's away. He does worry, however, about the fact that Dean doesn't have anyone to take care of him and that's just not fair.
Sammy's at that age where fairness is important, not just a vague concept, but the way life is meant to be. If Dean gets one cookie, Sammy should get one cookie too. If Dean gets new shoes, Sammy should get new shoes also. If Sammy has someone he trusts to always look out for him, to care about him, and make everything alright, Dean should too. Life should be fair and it hasn't even crossed his mind yet that sometimes...it just isn't.
When this inequity first occurs to him, Sammy begins keeping a mental list of the injustices as he perceives them.
On Wednesday, both Dean and Sammy have a training session with Daddy. Training sessions are when Daddy teaches them new hand-to-hand combat moves and drills them on previous lessons. They happen several times a week whenever Daddy has time for them. The rest of the days, he expects them to practice the moves without him.
This day the session goes on forever. Sammy is perceptive, even at four years old, he sees how the training goes. Where Daddy goes easy on Sammy due to his size, he's relentless with Dean. Daddy says he's getting ready to leave on a hunt and he could be gone a long time. He needs Dean to step up his training so he'll be ready to take on more responsibility for keeping the family safe.
Dean eagerly complies, throwing himself wholeheartedly into the lesson, wistfully watching Daddy's face for any signs of approval or the slightest hint of praise. By the end of the session Dean can barely move, muscles worked to their limits, face flushed with exertion. Sammy watches with a sadness he doesn't quite understand as Dean shuffles after Daddy into the apartment when the lesson finally ends.
Once they reach the living room, Daddy flops down into the tattered recliner, grabs a book from the side table, and props his feet up on the coffee table. Sammy heads over to the TV, turns around to ask Dean if he wants to watch with him, and sees him standing uncertainly next to Daddy's recliner. Embarrassment and need shine starkly in his eyes, it's almost painful to watch. Giving in to his need, Dean climbs stiffly into Daddy's lap. Startled, Daddy says, "Dean, what are you doing? I'm trying to read. Go find something to do." So, Dean gets off Daddy's lap, head down, looking way too much like a chastised puppy. He settles for the sofa in front of the TV, won't meet Sammy's eyes, but doesn't complain when Sammy climbs up next to him and snuggles in close.
On Thursday, Daddy is too busy doing research for the upcoming hunt to help Dean with his homework. Dean gives up on the essay he was supposed to write on a famous inventor and takes Sammy to the park instead, pushes him on the swing, catches him at the end of the slide, helps him climb the jungle gym. Sammy is thrilled to have Dean's attention and company at the park, but he wishes he was old enough to help Dean with his homework.
On Friday, Dean's teacher hands out lollipops to all the students in her class. There are only enough for each child to have one. When Dean gets home from school he takes the lollipop out of his pocket only to see the sheer longing on Sammy's face. Dean hands the sucker over without a word. Sammy offers to share, but Dean says, "Ewwww, I don't want your germs, squirt."
On Saturday, Daddy leaves to go on the hunt. Dean gets the usual lecture, "Don't let anyone into the apartment, keep the salt lines down, and take care of your little brother." This time Daddy adds, "I don't know when I'll be back. I'll call you when I know more." Dean mopes the rest of the day, fixes Sammy a lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but doesn't eat more than a bite or two of his own sandwich. Daddy being gone is always harder on Dean then it is on Sammy 'cause Sammy can snuggle up to Dean if he gets scared, but Dean has no one to protect him, so he's not allowed to get scared...ever.
On Sunday, a small carnival pulls into town and sets up in the parking lot of the shopping center right down the street from their apartment. They see it on their way to the grocery store to buy milk with the money Daddy left in the money jar.
"Can we go to the carnival Dean, please." Sammy begs with big round eyes and clasped hands. He knows they don't have any extra money for rides, or cotton candy, or games, but since he's stuck inside the apartment most of the time 'just looking around' seems like a wonderful treat.
Dean hesitates a moment, then smiles ruefully. "OK, squirt, but just to look and you're not allowed to ask me for anything once we get over there." With a self deprecating shake of the head he adds under his breath, "You know I won't be able to say 'no' if you ask."
Sammy cants his head to the side in puzzlement but is quick to promise.
The riot of colors, smells, and sounds is overwhelming. The merry-go-round with it's brightly painted horses and cheerful music, the concession stands selling everything from hot dogs and pizza to ice cream and funnel cakes that smell so good his mouth begins to water, and the stall with the balloons and the carnival worker holding darts, enticing passersby to try their hand at popping the balloons and winning a prize, all vie for his attention. It's a bit intimidating what with all the people who are so much bigger than him. He presses his tiny hand into Dean's larger one, scoots so close that their legs brush together as they walk. Eyes poping and mouth open, he tries to take it all in, savors the experience like only a four year old can, heart light and full of wonder.
They reach the end of the fairway and are just about to head back when Sammy sees her. An old woman with dozens of bangles around her wrists and a long flowing skirt stands outside of a small red and white stripped tent. A sign over the tent proclaims "Fortunes Told by Madam Giselle' in flourishing script. She's gazing at them intently with piercing blue eyes as though she sees right into their very souls. Sammy's breath catches in his throat when she beckons them over, her multicolored scarves catching in the slight breeze.
Shaking his head, Dean backs up a step, pulling Sammy along with him, "We don't have any money, sorry."
"You don't need money. You've already earned what I have to give you." There's something about the gypsy woman, she exudes almost an aura of kindness.
Dean must feel it too because he begins to walk forward, but ever the protective older brother, he shifts Sammy so that he's behind instead of beside him.
Upon reaching the gypsy, she motions for them to enter her tent. Dean pulls Sammy around and in front of him, grasping his little shoulders tightly, before preceding the woman into the small enclosed area.
A table and two folding chairs take up the entire floor space inside the tent. Sammy's attention is immediately drawn to the crystal ball siting in a nest of purple velvet in the middle of the table. Smoke churns endlessly within its depths and Sammy startles when the gypsy woman begins to talk, so intent had he been on the seething mist.
Lowering herself into one of the two chairs, the woman begins, "When I was born I was bestowed with one wish...only one...and I was forbidden to use it for myself or anyone I love. I've been waiting to find the right person to give the wish to. All my life I've watched and waited, traveling through untold numbers of towns, seeing numerous people. I'd almost given up on finding anyone worthy, but here you are...two of you. There's only one wish, so you'll have to decide who gets it." She looks expectantly at first Dean and then Sammy, attentively awaiting their choice.
Sammy knows what his wish would be, but he had promised Dean he wouldn't ask for anything while they were here, so he smiles up at his older brother, content to let Dean decide.
"Let the squirt here make a wish." Dean says, not like he's making a huge sacrifice, but more like he's humoring both Sammy and the gypsy woman.
Sammy's grin widens in pure delight.
The woman nods. "OK, you must hold my hand and make your wish out loud." She holds one weathered hand toward him and he takes it without hesitation.
At her prompting wink he makes his wish. "I wish I was a growed up whenever Dean needs help 'cause he always helps me and no one ever helps him and it's just not fair." He finishes his wish and gives his big brother an adoring look.
Dean's mouth drops open in astonishment, then he blinks rapidly a few times before turning to look at the hot dog stand across the way with all-absorbing interest.
The gypsy woman gives his hand a squeeze. "It's done." She says simply, releasing her hold.
He doesn't feel any different. Nothing has changed as far as he can tell. It's a bit of a disappointment, really. A lot of build up and no action.
Then Dean starts thanking Madam Giselle and pulling him out of the tent.
"What was up with that wish, Sammy?" What happened to the good ol' standby wishes like money, fame, or in your case, candy?" Dean is laughing now, teasing, and Sammy doesn't really know what to say, so he doesn't say anything at all.
He's quiet the rest of the way to the store and back home.
He knows that Dean forgets about the wish almost immediately, discards it as a strange encounter with a daffy old woman, but Sammy thinks about the wish a lot over the next couple of days as they go about their normal 'Daddy is away' routine.
Dean fixes the meals, keeps the house clean, reads to Sammy, tucks him in at night, all the things that parents do for their kids. Sammy tries to help out where he can. They watch a lot of TV, play cards, kick a ball around outside. Dean ditches school, can't really leave Sammy at home all by himself, practices his combat moves, teaches Sammy how to read, how to tie his shoe laces, how to draw the protection sigils.
It's not until several days later that the symptoms start to appear.
First there's the sneezing, lots and lots of sneezing. Then there's the runny nose, the sniffling and blowing into toilet paper 'cause they don't have any tissues. Next comes the sore throat only noticeable to Sammy when he sees Dean wince every time he swallows. Through all this Dean continues to take care of Sammy even though he moves slower and has to sit down to rest frequently.
That night, Dean sleeps fitfully if at all. Sammy wakes up several times to Dean's restless shuffling, in the next bed, even thinks he hears Dean whimper once.
In the morning Sammy finds Dean huddled miserably in his bead, head in his hands.
"What's a matter, Dean?" He asks, climbing up into the bed with his ill sibling.
"Sammy, you need to stay away from me or you'll get sick too." Dean rasps while making a feeble shooing gesture with one hand.
"But I wanna take care of you. What should I do?" He hates seeing Dean like this, hates not knowing how to make it better.
"You can't take care of me, squirt. You're too little. Don't worry, I'll be fine." Dean tries to smile reassuringly, ends up coughing and holding onto his throat, eyes watering with the pain.
It's not fair. Sammy hops off the bed and frowns back at Dean. "I'm not too little."
As soon as the words are out of his mouth, he loses his sense of equilibrium. The room starts to spin, up and down trade places, and he has to put his hand against the bed to keep from falling over. Unfortunately, the bed chooses that moment to shrink and when he reaches out to steady himself, he has to lean over before his hand finds the mattress.
Shocked, he stares down at Dean only to see his own expression mirrored back at him from Dean's face. Wait a minute, he's staring down at Dean. He always has to look up at Dean, never down.
He holds one of his hands in front of his face, turns it over to examine the back. Once chubby fingers are now slender and long, once smooth, soft skin is now tough with muscles bunching as he flexes the digits. His hand is now freakin' huge!
Both hands come up to investigate his face, run through his hair. He looks down at his arms, body, legs, everything has grown, including his clothes, which would be a good thing except that he was in his PJ's when this happened, so now he's wearing giant-sized footie PJ's. He's a giant! No, not a giant, a grown up!
"My wish, Dean! It's my wish! I'm a grown up." With awe he realizes that his wish encompasses more than just the physical aspects of being a grown up. He also has the mental and emotional capacity of a grown up. He knows everything now that he will know as a...twenty-four year old...his adult mind supplies, but without the experience of learning it. For example he knows how to shoot a crossbow, but he doesn't remember taking the lessons in order to learn, doesn't remember the hours of practice in order to get good at it. It's awesome!
One look at Dean though and his euphoric mood evaporates. His brother is regarding him with an expression nearing horror, face completely drained of color. This wish is supposed to be about helping Dean, not scaring him to death.