I Wish I was a Growed Up 5/?
Title: I WIsh I was a Growed Up
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: ~3,000
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 5 Daddy John
From his prone position on the bed, Dean raises both arms and makes 'gimee' motions with his hands as soon as Sammy comes back with the glass of water. His hands shake noticeably in front of him and he stares at them as if he doesn't understand why they're no longer under his control. With a small down turning of lips he presses his palms into the mattress at his sides, willing them to be still.
"It's OK, Dean, I got it." Sammy uses one strong arm to maneuver Dean into a sitting position, holds the glass of water to his mouth, and smiles as his brother relaxes into the support, drinking eagerly. "Just a little to start off with. We don't want you to get sick again."
Dean looks bone tired, weary even, but he manages to finish the whole glass of water in small increments to Sammy's satisfaction. Giving a sigh that almost sounds like contentment, he burrows further under the covers and closes his eyes. Just when Sammy is sure the boy must have fallen asleep, his eyes snap open and lock on Sammy once again as though he's afraid to let himself drift off.
"What is it, Dean?"
"Nothing." Dean gives a small shake of his head, dismissing the importance of his concern.
"I can see something's bothering you. You can tell me, I might be able to help, you know." Tilting his head and arching his eyebrows in an expression of intense interest, Sammy waits patiently for a reply.
"Don't wanna dream. Might be the same one."
The mumbled answer reminds Sammy that Dean's dream is a huge clue into his state of mind. The dream in which Sammy is taken away and Dean is unable to follow. Not only is he prevented from saving Sammy by his own perceived inadequacies, but he also isn't strong enough or good enough to follow after him. Those were the exact words he had used.
To follow him where? Away from this life of aborted innocence? It's true that Sammy has a much better chance of making it as a fully functioning adult because he has an older brother to shelter him from much of the pain and uncertainly their childhood presents to them on a daily basis.
Sam feels a cosmic pull to get Dean through his childhood in one piece, whole in mind as well as body. It feels as though they have a destiny so big it's going to require both of them to stand tall together in the end game and they have to be strong when they get there. Dean has been doing his part to get Sammy there, safe and sound on the other side of this, whatever this is...growing up without parents, without examples of 'healthy', 'well-adjusted', 'normal'. And now it's his turn to bring his brother out of this hellish existence, an existence where he slaves for everyone's cause but his own, and eventually into the light of adulthood with the knowledge that someone cares about him, loves him. Because children who don't have that...well, those kids just don't make it and there's just no way he's going to let that happen to Dean. Too much time has passed already, four years, and Dean has grown uncomfortable with displays of affection having lived without for so long. He's lost, trapped, emotionally crippled by circumstances beyond his control.
So, Sammy scoots into the too-short bed next to Dean and hugs the child tightly to him. His brother stiffens and tries to pull away, but Sammy just holds on even tighter until Dean relents and rests his head on Sammy's shoulder. Then Sammy starts making promises he fully intends to keep.
"When you feel better, we're going to go outside and I'm going to teach you everything I know about hand-to-hand and let me tell you, I know a lot. I know stuff Dad hasn't even begun to teach you yet. When he gets home he's gonna be so impressed, Dean. You'll be able to show him how hard you've been working and he'll be amazed."
Sammy keeps right on talking, the words soothing his brother's wounded spirit with tales of valor and skill, better than any fairy tale or lullaby. The next time Sammy looks down, Dean is out like a light.
Over the next few days the bond forged between the two brothers grows. It's always been strong, if a bit one-sided with Sammy being so young, but now it's like a thick steel cable, unbreakable, impenetrable, tying them inexorably to one another.
The illness slowly loosens its hold on Dean and each day they are able to spend longer and longer outside working on perfecting the attacks, counter-attacks, and blocks that Sammy teaches Dean as well as the moves that Dad taught him.
How Dad expected Dean to work on any hand-to-hand skills with only his four year old brother around to practice with is beyond Sammy. Most of them require a partner, preferably of the same size, or a passive larger opponent, one who can act as a moving target and won't get hurt by the thrown punches and kicks. With Sammy as a willing and capable sparring partner, coach, and cheer-leader, Dean progresses in giant leaps and bounds. He's a natural and only needs a little bit of encouragement, patience, and kindness to shine like a highly polished gem.
In between training sessions, Sammy makes sure that Dean gets plenty of rest, drinks lots of water, eats healthy meals and enjoys some recreation that's not related to learning how to be a hunter in any way. Amazingly, Dean lets him, actually thrives on it.
They find some puzzles in a crawl space of the apartment, left there by some previous tenant. Each puzzle depicts a landscape. One is of a farmhouse with a pasture full of horses, another is a picture of a lake and several rowboats, and one has a towering snow-capped mountain on it. Sammy has never seen Dean sit still long enough to put a puzzle together before and really doesn't think he'll be at all interested, so he's surprised when Dean becomes engrossed with fitting the tiny pieces into their proper places. The two brothers spend many happy hours laughing and talking over the jigsaws.
Four days after Dad's call, they're outside working on disarming an opponent. Sammy's holding a stick and Dean is repeatedly either knocking it out of his hand with a series of karate-like moves or wrestling it from him while ensuring that the weapon, be it a gun or a knife, can't be used on him. When Dean wants to learn something, he's unstoppable. The thing that makes him such a good student is the way he applies himself, always gives 100 percent, concentration fully on what he's doing. Of course, the key is that it has to be something he's interested in.
They had been practicing for about half an hour and Sammy was ready for something new, but Dean still wasn't completely satisfied with his level of competence.
"A couple more goes, Sammy, please?" Dean begs, eyes upturned and pleading.
Sammy gives a good-natured snort, thinking that his brother might have him beat when it comes to the puppy dog eyes.
"Fine, a couple more, but then it's time for a break." He gives in tolerantly right before a strange sensation overwhelms him.
It feels as though the ground and the sky are switching places, making him dizzy and exhilarated at the same time. The trees soar up and away while the grass comes swooping towards his face. He staggers forward, arms outstretched, hands grasping.
Dean is there in an instant , clasping his upper arms, and it becomes clear to Sammy what's happening when he hears his brother's quiet assurances.
"My turn now, Sammy. It's my turn. I gotcha, squirt."
He's four year old again.
Everything he automatically knew as a twenty-four years old begins to dissolve, fragment, and float away. It leaves him bewildered and off-center because he can still remember it, being twenty-four and everything that happened during the last couple of days, but it's blurry, like ether, easily forgotten with time. His four year old mind simply cannot grasp some of the more complicated concepts, so they spiral out of him, leaving him dizzy with their passage.
He tightens his fists in Dean's shirt. Dean's here and that means there's nothing to be afraid of, his brother will take care of him.
Gazing up at the older boy's concerned face, Sammy seeks approval. "It was my wish, right Dean? I did good, didn't I?"
"Yeah, you did real good." Dean sounds wistful and joyful, simultaneously.
On those rare occasions when John Winchester becomes introspective, he doesn't think of himself as a hard-hearted man. He doesn't think of himself as intentionally cruel. Quite the opposite, in fact. When John thinks about himself, as everyone does from time to time, he sees a kind man who cares about others and loves his sons. He's dedicating his life to saving other people, isn't he? He's sacrificing everything he holds dear each and every day to keep others safe, isn't he?
He used to be affectionate, but those days are gone, that part of him dried up and blew away in the fire that took his wife. So now he shows his love in other, more abstract, ways. As a military man, he falls back on his military training, allows the discipline and order of it to rule his life, prepares his boys for lurking evil in the best way he knows how, and ignores any hint that he may not be providing them with the emotional stability they crave. He just can't do it, its not in him anymore.
He frequently looses himself in the thrill of the hunt. Killing every evil creature he can find and saving people takes the place of everything else he used to have. Each time he ends a vile creature he gains a measure of peace, but the peace is fleeting, leaving him itching and aching for the next one. Its like an addiction.
He doesn't want his sons to go though what he went through, so he starts teaching them about monsters and how to fight them. That way, they won't be surprised, like he was, blindsided really, when the hideous creatures come crawling into their houses to steal their loved ones away. Its the best he can do to protect them.
The hunt he just finished up took quite a long time and he knows it's not good to leave his young sons alone so many days in a row, regardless he's already thinking about his next case, mind already immersed in what he knows so far and what he's going to need. It's a paying gig, which is an unusual bonus.
The Impala almost drives itself, a home-seeking missile cutting a path down the asphalt lanes toward the apartment where two boys await his return. It'll be good to see them again after...how many days has it been anyway? Too long, longer than he's ever left them before. Dean had definitely sounded sick on the phone, just a cold though he'd said. John hopes that's true. He's going to need Dean at the top of his game for this next hunt. Lives are at stake.
The intel he has for the upcoming hunt amounts to this; children of families living in a condominium are being attacked in their bedrooms after the parents have gone to sleep. So far, five kids have been beaten and throttled, the last one died of his injuries. All five screamed bloody murder while their parents, awakened by the screaming and banging, frantically tried to get to their children. In all five cases the bedroom doors were wedged shut, impossible to open no matter what measures the parents took to get in. Impossible that is, until the doors popped open of their own accord to reveal the children, terrified, bruised, and alone in their rooms.
Word had spread quickly through the building and all the remaining families with children had moved out, justifiably frightened of the invisible assailant. The condominium association chairman had gotten John's contact information, he's still not quite sure how, and hired him to investigate and put an end to the attacks.
He's already come up with a list of possible supernatural entities, those that tend to prey upon children. Boogeymen, the ones that hide under beds or in closets, are an obvious suspect. Then there are shtriga, aswang, and rawheads, all of whom have a penchant for young children. None of them seem to exactly fit this case though. John still has some research to do.
Since all of the children have been removed from the building, and the entity only targets children, the adult residents should be safe enough until he can get there. He needs to get home to his kids, evaluate Dean's readiness, and do a little more research before he packs them all up to move into the condo. They're to be given free accommodations in the condo for as long as necessary as part of his compensation.
It doesn't occur to him to think about what he's telling his children when he's willing to put their lives on the line to save others, because he doesn't think of it in those terms at all. The word 'bait' never crosses his mind. He's been preparing them for this, Dean at least, and he's going to be with them the entire time, they'll never be left unprotected.
It's mid-afternoon when he pulls up to their apartment building and he's exhausted from the seemingly endless hours of driving it took to get here. He only slept once, pulling over into a rest stop and catching a couple hours in the car when he'd been unable to go any further. The sound of his boys' laughter reaches him through the open drivers' side window. It's coming from the back of the apartment complex. That's a sound he doesn't hear nearly enough. He takes a moment to close his eyes, lean his head on the back of the seat, and enjoy the pure ring of it.
The rusty hinges squeak when he pushes the gate open, announcing his arrival. Sammy has Dean 'pinned' in the grass, straddling his chest, and Dean has one hand free, tickling his younger sibling's belly while he plays at being unable to get up. Both boys still at the sound of the gate and two heads whip around to see who is breaching their sanctuary.
"Hey boys." John calls and smiles wide in genuine happiness at seeing his kids together and doing fine. He ignores the voice inside his head that says 'doing fine without me'.
Two excited voices call back.
Sammy scrambles off his big brother and waits for Dean to get up, slipping his hand possessively into Dean's before they both walk over to greet him. There are no shouts of 'daddy!' and no running to meet him, to be swept up into his arms, but that's his own fault. He doesn't encourage it. He misses it sometimes though, like now.
They come to a stop in front of him and he drops a hand to each boy's slight shoulder, looking them up and down, checking for signs that anything is amiss. Something's different, he can't quite put his finger on what though. The difference is subtle, a more carefree tilt to Dean's head, a more self-assured swagger to Sammy's gait, the way they move as a team, two parts of a single unit.
"Dean, how about a status report, tell me what's been happening around here while I've been gone." John's voice is crisp and authoritative. The faster he can assess the situation here, the faster they can be moving on. He feels the tickle of anticipation and as much as he knows he should slow down, spend some time with his kids, just talk to them like a parent instead of a Drill Sargent, the tickle quickly becomes the itch, driving him onward to the next hunt, the next monster, the next righteous kill. Addiction.
Before Dean can compose his answer, Sammy pipes up, "Dean was really, really sick, Dad. But it's OK though 'cause my wish camed true and I was a growed up and I took care of him and he got all better."
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