I Wish I was a Growed Up 6/?
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. Violence towards children.
Word Count: ~4,000
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 6 Spirits Fight Nasty
Dean watches as his father's eyes narrow appraisingly to sweep first Sammy and then him. After a beat, the dangerous glint recedes, an amused expression replacing the hardened one, as if Dad had changed his mind about something or come to a different conclusion.
"You mean, you looked after your brother when he wasn't feeling well, just like a grown up. That's good Sammy. That's what family does, they take care of each other." Dad fingers the collar of Sammy's shirt absently before moving his hand to the top of his head, a fond smile curling his lips.
Dean kind of hopes that the subject drops on that note. It's not that he wants to lie to his Dad, in fact he's pretty sure he could never get away with that, but the truth is going to be hard in so many ways. Hard to fully explain, hard to make Dad believe, impossible to prove, and not worth the trouble. Sammy turning into an adult for six days then turning back into his usual four year old self just moments before Dad arrives home...that was just a fluke, never going to happen again, right? No point in discussing something that's over and done with.
Sammy's determined not to be taken lightly though. "No, not 'like a growed up', a real live growed up." His mop of dark hair shifts under Dad's hand as he shakes his head in emphasis.
"What's this about, Dean?" All amusement evaporates and Dad's puzzled gaze seems to drill into him.
Dean's mouth goes dry while he tries to think of some way to explain what happened, rejecting each opening as it comes to him, unable to think of a single plausible statement. Worse than Dad not believing his story is the realization that Dad might get angry with him for allowing Sammy to talk to some wacky fortune teller in the first place.
Impatience draws stark lines across his father's face, so Dean plunges reluctantly into the tale, speaking quickly to get it over with as soon as possible and dropping Sammy's hand when he feels the slippery sweat of nerves coat his palm. When he finishes his narration, he glances up at the stern man in front of him. Dad's lips are pressed together in a thin line, his arms are crossed over his chest. Sammy mirrors his body language all the away down to the determined jut of his jaw.
"I'm not in the mood for fairy tales, Dean. Is this the way you've been spending your time, making up bed time stories for your little brother?"
"No, sir." Dean unconsciously licks his bottom lip, a true sign of how uncomfortable the situation is making him.
"That's good, because I would be extremely disappointed if that were the case." Dad glares to make his point before continuing. "Since we're out here, how about you show me how much you practiced the combat moves I taught you."
Sammy must finally realize they aren't going to be able to convince their Dad of the truth, because he thankfully remains silent, although he kicks a few grass tufts in mute protest on his way over to the area they use for practice.
Leaning over, Dean whispers conspiratorially to the younger boy, "Don't be upset, squirt. You and I know what really happened and that's all that matters."
The tension in Sammy's small frame visibly dissipates and he slants a secretive grin at his older brother, appeased with the idea of a shared confidence.
Excitement thrums beneath the surface of Dean's skin, he's eager to show Dad the new skills he's worked so hard to learn over the past couple of days. Throwing Sammy a wink, he takes up position facing the man he idolizes, the man whose approval he craves.
In typical John Winchester fashion, Dad calls all the shots, orders burst from his mouth as naturally as water runs downhill. Before long, Dean has successfully performed every technique Dad fires at him.
He takes a tentative step forward when Dad pauses in his commands. "I know other stuff, wanna see?" He asks while bouncing on the balls of his feet expectantly, jittery with anticipation. If Dad's ever going to be proud of him, this is the moment, the chance to prove his worth.
"He's super good, Dad, you should see what he can do." Sammy adds from his self-appointed post beside the make shift sparring/practice area.
He flicks a look of thanks at his brother and then zeros in on his father's face once more. There are dark smudges under the man's eyes that speak of long days and not enough sleep. Dean forgets about demonstrating his proficiency in combat skills for a moment as worry grips him.
"You OK, Dad?" Frowning in concern, Dean feels the mantle of responsibility return to envelope him securely. It had been lifted briefly by Sammy's wish, but his brief respite is over now. His gaze rakes his father for any noticeable injuries, signs of trauma, or hints of pain. Seeing nothing, he relaxes marginally.
"Just tired, that's all. Go ahead and show me what you've got." Dad grimaces and makes a 'go ahead' gesture with one hand.
Practice and true talent make his movements sure, graceful even. Through the whirl of activity, Dean explains the purpose of each maneuver just like 'big' Sammy did for him, not wanting his Dad to misinterpret the flurry as utter chaos. Little does he know there's no way to mistake the obvious finesse with which he executes each exercise.
Breathing heavily, he waits for a response from his Dad at the end of the last roundhouse kick. When Sammy had been training him, there had always been plenty of praise. He'd gotten used to it and now it was conspicuous in its absence. Dean's moss green eyes scan his father's features and the expression he sees there reminds him of the look on Sammy's face when he gets a new toy. Yup, Dad looks as though someone has just handed him a shiny new toy and he can't wait to tear the plastic packaging off to play with it. The air around him seems to grow a few degrees colder and he glances over at Sammy, wondering if the youngster also feels the difference, but the little boy has lost interest in the interaction between the two older Winchesters and is happily playing with a few pebbles.
"Where did you learn all that, son?" Dad's expression has lost its atypical glow and now holds only curiosity.
"Ummm, saw someone else doing it." Not wanting to get into another argument and not wanting to lie straight out, Dean settles for a half truth.
Dad nods slowly, deep in thought, and Dean doesn't know if his father fully buys the answer, but no challenge is issued so he takes that as a positive. After a while the man seems to make a decision, saying briskly, "Tomorrow I'll take you target shooting. I have some research to do and then we're leaving. I need you boys packed up and ready to go by tomorrow evening."
Dean didn't know what he had expected from his Dad, but that hadn't been it. On the other hand, he doesn't know why he would have expected anything different. A 'good job,son' or a 'that was great, Dean' would have been bizarre coming from the man who only seems to spend time with him when it's training related these days.
They all troop into the apartment, Dad to collapse in his bed, Sammy to play with his matchbox cars, and Dean to scrounge together something for dinner.
The next day, Dad takes them out to an empty field at the edge of town, places six tin cans on a wooden fence, and hands Dean a shotgun. Dean hits five of the cans dead center and the sixth one a glancing strike. Sammy asks for a turn, but Dad says he's too young yet, maybe in another year or two. Dean's first time at target practice had been when he was six and he had picked up the skill easily. After that, they switch to a handgun. Handguns are a bit trickier, not as simple to aim. Only three of the cans fly off the fence during the first round. Dad continues to set up the cans until Dean shoots all six off the fence without a single miss.
The rest of the day is spent at the library so Dad can research. Dean keeps Sammy occupied in the children's section. It's not hard, Sammy loves all the books and practically squeals in delight at the train track set up in the middle of the room. All Dean has to do is keep an eye on him as he chug chug chugs a boxcar around the track.
That evening they're packed up and on the road, headed toward Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. It sounds like a romantic place, full of cowboys and indians. Dad won't say much about why they're going there or what they're going to be doing, he rarely tells them about his hunts and Dean has learned not to ask too many questions.
Broken Arrow turns out to be just another small southwestern town with a Qwiktrip convenience store on every corner and not a single teepee in sight. Trailer parks, cow pastures, and the occasional church or school make up the rural setting flashing past the windows of the Impala as they drive down the only road through town. The smell of manure wafts through the open windows and Dean finds the odor not completely unpleasant. It's earthy and warm, like a summer's day with nothing to do but lay in the grass and watch the clouds sail by.
Eventually, the fields give way to shopping centers and housing subdivisions. Dad pulls into the parking lot of a gleaming white condominium building across the street from Briarwood Mall. Their first stop is the condo manager, Mr. Niland's, office where they are courteously admitted.
"Mr. Winchester, please come in. I was told by our association chairman to expect you today. I hear you have some expertise in dealing with...problems such as ours." Mr. Niland ushers the three Winchesters into his office with an outstretched hand, eyebrows raising in astonishment as Dean and Sammy trail in behind their father. "I knew your children were going to be accompanying you, but I didn't think they would be so...young."
"Yes, I do have expertise in dealing with your type of problem and my children are none of your concern. They'll behave, if that's what you're worried about." The eldest Winchester bristles.
"No, no, it's not that." Mr. Niland hastens to explain. "It's just that...whatever is happening here...it's happening to children. I just thought..." Flapping his hands uncertainly, Mr. Niland lets his voice trail off, unwilling to finish his sentence in the presence of the hunter's stony countenance.
"You just let me worry about my kids. Why don't you tell me everything you can about what exactly is happening here so I can do the job you're paying me to do."
"I don't have children myself, but I can tell you what the families who do have children told me. The kids all say they were attacked by a lady with chalky white skin who materialized in their rooms out of thin air and disappeared the same way."
Dad rubs the back of his neck with his right hand, a slight smile playing around his lips. "What does she look like? Has anyone recognized her?"
To Dean, it looks as though his father is pleased with the information he's gathered so far. He'd like to ask what it all means, especially if Sammy might be in danger, but he knows better than to interrupt his Dad when he's interviewing witnesses. Instead, he listens intently while making sure that Sammy doesn't touch any of the papers or pens on Mr. Niland's desk.
"To be completely honest with you, she looks like a ghost. That's what the kids all say. I know it sounds crazy, but there it is. All the kids come up with the same description. She's a young woman, wears a long dress with a high collar, shoulder length dark hair. She only says one thing over and over again, 'How could you do this.' Nobody recognizes her as far as I know." An anxious Mr. Niland paces from one end of the office to the other, hands gesturing wildly. "And the things she does to the children, throwing them into walls, twisting their arms and legs, strangling them...it's barbaric." The manager shivers and shakes his head in empathy.
Dad frowns at the mention of the children's injuries. "Has anything happened here pre-dating the attacks on the children, anything out of the ordinary?"
"Well, let's see, the attacks started two months ago. That's just about the time we started construction on the new addition. It's almost complete now. In fact, that's part of the problem. All of the families who were lined up to move in are now backing out of the contracts and who can blame them. There's just no point in taking that kind of risk with your children."
Dean sees his Dad flinch as the words hit their mark, however, he pretends not to have understood the double meaning. "You've been very helpful, Mr. Niland. Can you tell us where we'll be staying and where the new addition is located?"
The manager takes them around himself. He shows them the entire facility, gives them the grand tour, extols the virtues of the common areas and other amenities as if they're interested buyers. The pool area catches Dean's attention and he wonders how long they're going be here and whether he might be able to talk his Dad into letting him try it out.
Dad seems to pay particular attention when they get to the new addition, asking Mr. Niland questions that Dean isn't close enough to hear. After the tour, they unload the Impala, taking their duffles of clothes and hunting supplies to their rooms on the second floor of the condo's main building.
Once the manager has left them alone, his Dad begins unpacking the weapons, handing Dean a shotgun loaded with salt cartridges. "It's a vengeful spirit, Dean, probably stirred up during the construction for the new wing. A simple salt and burn should take care of it. All we have to do is find the bones." Dad looks positively gleeful, an easy hunt for once, and one he's being paid to do. "This is a good opportunity for you, son. It's still daylight out and spirits generally only show up at night. We can go check out the new addition now, maybe end this today, before it even gets dark."
Dean never second guesses his Dad, the man is a hero in every way as far as he's concerned, but something bothers him about this and it's not just the way the manager was looking at them, talking about how the spirit goes after kids and how all the other families had taken their children away from the perilous location. If it was just him, it would be different. He's totally ready to join his Dad on a hunt, excited to be trusted. He doesn't want to say anything to get himself sent off to a motel room away from the action, and yet...
"Dad, Sammy shouldn't be here." He finds himself voicing his concern.
"It's fine, Dean. You two just stay close to me and we'll be done here before you know it. Spirits follow predictable patterns and this one doesn't come out until after dark." Dad doesn't even look up from his tasks of readying a second shotgun and filling his pockets with the necessary hunting supplies.
They follow the same path to the new wing of the condo that the manager took them on earlier, down the stairs, past the pool, left turn at the mailboxes. No one else is around despite the early hour and Dean pulls the shotgun out from under the light jacket Dad had him wear for the sole purpose of concealing the weapon from prying eyes.
Sammy demands constant supervision at this point to keep him under control. It's been a long day already, much of it spent cooped up in the car and the little boy is quickly running out of good behavior. Dean often thinks that his little brother starts each day with a certain quotient of good behavior and as the day wears on, the goodness meter gets lower and lower. Depending on what happens during the day, the goodness allotment might last all day or it might run out early on. Today, they're on empty and they still have several more hours until it gets dark enough for bed time.
"Stay close to me, Sammy." Dean calls when his little brother wanders off the sidewalk.
"But, I just wanna see somefing over here." Sammy announces defiantly.
Looking ahead, Dean sees his Dad reach the first set of rooms in the almost completed new wing, try the door only to find it locked, and move on down the path to the next set.
"Hey, squirt, I'll race you to the first door of that building. Last one there's a rotten egg." Dean challenges, pointing to the door Dad just passed. Being responsible for a four year old when you're only eight years old yourself, sometimes requires a bit of ingenuity.
Sammy grins and takes off toward the door, knowing that his older brother always gives him a bit of a head start, so he doesn't have to wait for a proper countdown. They reach the finish line at the same time and Dean can't help laughing at the pleased look on the younger boy's face as they touch the door in perfect synchronization. His mirth is short lived, however, when the door falls open at their touch and they both tumble across the threshold before it slams shut behind them.
The shotgun is still clutched tightly in his hand even though his elbow took the brunt of his weight in the fall and it throbs painfully. Sammy sits up and blinks in surprise, unsure whether to be upset by his spill. Dean acts quickly to forestall a tantrum.
"Well, that was funny. You're OK, right squirt?" He hops up and sets the smaller child on his feet, calmly running his free hand over his brother's head checking for lumps. Sammy, reassured by the soothing caress and the older boy's unaffected attitude, decides he is indeed, OK.
Turning around, Dean puts his hand on the door knob and twists, locked. He thumbs the locking mechanism and tries again, still locked. There's a blur of movement off to his right, a black and white blob floating serenely just within his peripheral vision. Heart jack hammering, he pivots to the right and the shape is no longer there, if it was ever there in the first place. His imagination must be working overtime.
Dean chuckles nervously, takes a deep breath, and exhales a cloud of vapor. The temperature immediately drops forty degrees.
With a flicker of shadow and light, the spirit woman shimmers to life in front of him. Her wild eyes dart from him to Sammy, sizing them each up, taking their full measure. "How could you do this?" She screeches, her voice harsh like violin strings bowed wrong, one finger pointing right at Sammy's trembling chest.
Not Sammy, not Sammy, not Sammy.
Dean's only thought is to shield his little brother from harm by any available means. Stepping in front of the little boy, he raises the shotgun, positions the butt against his shoulder, and sights along the barrel. The unearthly spirit is too fast though and before he can pull the trigger, she sweeps the shotgun out of his hands. It clatters to the ground, sliding to a stop when it reaches the far wall.
Sammy whimpers his name and the sound galvanizes Dean like no other sound on earth ever could.
"Leave my brother alone!" He yells, fists clenched tightly at his sides.
"How could you do this?" The vengeful spirit grates again, this time staring straight at Dean. Her lips pull away from her teeth in a terrible scowl, revealing blackened gums. The next thing Dean knows he's being lifted off the ground by the woman's clawed hand fisting his jacket, his feet dangling uselessly in mid-air. There's a sensation of rushing wind and then the heavy thump of his body hitting the wall. It all happens so quickly that it takes a while for his brain to catch up to the rest of him. He doesn't feel any pain at first and that's how he knows he's really in trouble 'cause being thrown into a wall should hurt, he's pretty sure about that. When the pain slams into him, it comes from all angles.
She's on top of him in an instant and Dean can't move. In one horrendous moment she has his arm in a cold, steely grip and she's yanking him up, swinging him around, brutally twisting until he hears a crack that sends all coherent thought flying into outer space.
Through the haze of agony he hears Sammy holler his name in what sounds like a blood rage and he sees his Dad through one of the windows screaming and pounding in vain on the pane of glass.
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