Rating: PG-13 for language
Word Count 7,880
Summary: Dean only has a year to live, and Sam is suffering from a very unusual form of PTSD after the trickster makes him watch his brother die over and over again with no way to stop it. It’s the perfect time for a side trip to Disney World. Prompts included: Dean out of his element - in a fun way, brothers doing something or going somewhere we’ve never seen them do or go, brothers being playful, kicking back, relaxing, and theme parks.
A/N: This story was written for the 2019 spn_summergen fic exchange and was gifted to sweetondean. The prompts were perfect for me and I loved writing this so very much!
The source of the tickets is a mystery. Sam hasn’t explained and, out of professional courtesy, Dean doesn’t plan on asking. There’s been plenty of times he’s had to stoop to nefarious means to acquire certain necessities, and it’s always nice when he doesn’t have to explain himself. Of all the secrets Sam could be keeping, this one seems pretty harmless.
Also, Sam’s motivations are unclear. Dean suspects it has something to do with his hell-side reservation, and that’s a good enough reason for him even though it’s not on his things-to-do-before-hellhounds-cart-him-o
But when Sam comes strolling into the motel room from a supply run, clutching two tickets like he’s just struck gold, well...how can Dean say no to that face? Easy answer, he can’t. Besides, Sam’s been jumpy ever since Broward County and the trickster. He’s been hovering worse than any helicopter parent, tense and unwilling to let Dean do much of anything without supervision. Constant vigilance seems to be his new catch phrase, as if Dean’s a toddler who’s likely to stick his finger in an electrical socket if not watched carefully. Maybe a trip to mouse central will be good for him.
“Here Dean, put this sunscreen on. With those shorts and t-shirt, you have more skin exposed than usual, and this is Florida. Even in September the sun can be brutal here. Make sure you get your face too. Do you want me to put some on the back of your neck? Or do you have it? Okay jeez, you have it. No need to get violent.”
Or maybe not.
Dean lowers his raised fist and grabs the bottle of sunscreen while Sam backs off, hands held up in a parody of surrender.
Noting the high SPF on the bottle, Dean grimaces. Sunscreen? No way is he putting on sunscreen. Sunscreen is for wusses and he is no wuss. He chucks the offending bottle back at his brother. “Not yet. I don’t want that shit all over my baby’s leather seats.” With any luck, Sam will forget all about sunscreen once they get there.
Sam catches the missile one-handed. “Fine,” he huffs and replaces it inside his backpack. “Let’s go. I’ve read some tip blogs about Disney World, and they all say that if you get there early, you can beat some of the long lines.”
“Leave it to you to research how to have fun.” Dean chuckles. His brother is such a geek.
He leads the way to the car. A light breeze blows warm air against his naked legs. It feels strange. He can’t remember the last time he wore shorts outside. Come to think of it, his legs do look a bit pale. The sunshine will probably be good for him.
Traffic comes to a crawl as they get close to their destination, his baby looking sleek and sophisticated and completely out of place surrounded by all the minivans and douchey SUVs. She looks like a shark swimming with a bunch of dolphins.
The windows are down, but without their normal speed there’s little air circulation. Even this early, it’s hot and humid. Sweat is making his legs stick to the seats. That’s not something he’s had to deal with since he was a little kid, sitting in the backseat in thrift store shorts his dad used to make him wear before he had much say in his own wardrobe. He shifts uncomfortably, peeling the backs of his knees from the leather only to have them become glued to the new spot.
His fidgeting has an unwelcome consequence. It pulls Sam’s attention from whatever he’s been studying on his phone for the last fifteen minutes. “You okay?” he asks, muscles tensing in a way that screams mama bear ready to defend her young from any and all dangers.
“Yeah man, relax. I’m fine.” He’s had to do a lot of that lately - reassuring Sam he’s not about to drop dead. And he gets it, he does. How many times did Sam have to watch him die? Dozens? Maybe even hundreds? Dean’s not sure, Sam hasn’t gone into a lot of detail. But he does know this, if it had been him, and he had to watch Sam die over and over again with no way to stop it, he’d have ended up in a looney bin for sure. The one and thankfully only time he had to hold his dying brother in his arms sent him running straight to the nearest crossroads, so yeah, he can’t blame Sam for being a little twitchy.
Sam sits back, but he doesn’t stop watching him. His stare makes Dean wonder if during all those months of Tuesdays he ever died of heatstroke. Or maybe exhaust fume poisoning. Or a deadly allergic reaction to sunshine. Is that a thing? Seems like something the trickster might make up just to fuck with Sam. Eventually, his brother must decide he’s not on death’s door because he goes back to his phone and starts mumbling about something that sounds like ‘fastpass’, whatever that is.
To Dean’s relief, they reach the parking lot soon after. His relief is short lived, however, as they join the sea of humanity walking toward the entrance.
“I thought you said there would be fewer lines if we got here early.” He pointedly looks around at all the people shuffling along with them. A young woman in front of them who is pushing a double stroller glances back, giving him a commiserating smile and a small eye roll. He winks at her and ignores the glare he gets from the man beside her.
Sam, seeing the exchange, gathers his considerable height and presses closer to Dean, exuding menace. Death by jealous husband? Yup, that’s definitely a thing.
“There’s always a bottleneck at the entrance. It’ll be fine once we get inside.” Sam’s confident tone makes him sound like an expert even though Dean knows for a fact he’s never been here before. That know-it-all demeanor, his ability to bullshit with the best of them, is one of Sam’s defining traits. He would have made one hell of a good lawyer. That doesn’t make it any less annoying.
“Personal space, gigantor. Ever heard of it?” Dean knocks his shoulder into his brother’s arm, and Sam takes a grudging half step to the side.
They make it through the gates and, as if by magic, the crowds disperse, eager children pulling their parents in all different directions. Damn Sam for always being right.
Dean looks around and can’t help feeling a little bit awed. They’re on a wide street, storefronts on both sides, and everything is bright and white and so clean it’s like the entire place was freshly painted just the night before. It’s not what he’d been expecting, but then again, the closest he’s ever been to a theme park like this one is the traveling carnivals that set up in mall parking lots or open fields. He’s used to loud carnies, litter everywhere, dirt and grime and be careful where you walk or you might step in a pile of horse shit.
This isn’t that. It’s about the farthest thing from.
Up ahead a castle gleams in the sunlight, picture perfect. In fact, lots of families are stopping to have their photos snapped. Dean elbows his brother in the ribs. “Look princess, a castle. You must feel right at home.”
Sam shoots him a classic bitchface. “You’re hilarious. Now put this on before you burn.”
The dreaded bottle of sunscreen hits him in the chest. So much for hoping Sam would forget. Dean decides to humor his brother on this one. He makes a show of slathering the slimy stuff on his arms, but only makes a few half-hearted swipes on his legs when Sam stops paying attention. Good enough.
“Come on. We’re hitting up Space Mountain. The lines get longest there so we gotta do that first.”
Apparently, Sam has an agenda.
“Hold up. Don’t we get to eat breakfast? I’m starved. They have food here, right? Corn dogs? Deep fried Oreos?”
“Deep fried...? Gross, Dean. We’re at Disney World, not the Tuscaloosa fair. Of course, they have food here. Some of it’s supposed to be really good, too. There’s this blog online. It’s called the Disney Food Blog...”
Dean tunes out Sam’s ramblings and looks around. Spotting a promising kiosk, he makes his way over to Joffrey’s Coffee stall and buys a cup of Joe along with a huge, pink-frosted donut. He stuffs half the enormous pastry into his mouth. Multi-colored sprinkles rain down onto his shirt. Mmm, so good. He looks over to see that Sam has trailed off from his recitation of all the healthy food options now available at the Disney parks and is staring at him, jaw dropped in disbelief or disgust. It’s hard to tell which. He knows a way to clinch it though. He chews a few more times to get the donut good and masticated before opening his mouth wide.
“Jesus Dean, could you be any more juvenile.” Sam’s face is now screwed up like he’s going to hurl. “You’re unbelievable.”
Cool, he got both the disbelief and the disgust. Score: Dean - 2, Sam - 0. Hey, Sam wants to treat him like a little kid, Dean’s happy to oblige by acting like one. “When in Rome, Sammy,” he says, cocking his head at the little boy three feet away who is currently cramming as much of a similar donut into his mouth as he can manage.
“Yeah, you have a talent for fitting in perfectly wherever you go. Put you in prison and you become the model inmate. Put you on a movie production set and you become the most sought after PA in Hollywood. I should have expected if I took you to Disney you’d turn into a little kid.” Sam sighs. “Oh well, as long as you’re having fun.”
“Awww shucks, Sam, stop. You’re making me blush.” Dean swallows around his grin. “Wait, is that what all this is about? You want me to have fun? Shit, if that’s the case, why here? Why not—oh I don’t know—Vegas? Or hell, I’m a simple man, just take me to the nearest red light district and I’ll be one happy camper. I hear Miami has some mighty interesting...” He loses his train of thought at the devastated expression on his little brother’s face. “Sam, what’s going on?”
Sam rubs at his nose and blinks hard. Alarm bells start ringing inside Dean’s head. Code Blue! All hands on deck! He needs to avert this crisis quick because Sam is an ugly crier; we’re talking snot and tears and scrunched up face, the whole nine yards, and little kids should not be subjected to that. He needs a diversion. “Come on Sam, let’s talk while we get to that...what was it? Space Jump? Moon Mountain? Gotta get there before the line gets too long, right?”
“Space Mountain,” Sam corrects him, just like Dean knew he would. It’s a time honored distraction method, one that Dean employs well even if he does say so himself. Sometimes his brother is just too easy. Sam sniffles once as they start walking, but it looks like tears have been forestalled.
“Okay, so tell me what this is all about.”
Sam weaves them through a large group of people going in the opposite direction. “You remember when we were kids? Dad was working a case in Florida, and we drove right past Orlando.”
Dean racks his brain for a long moment before it comes to him. “Right, that swamp monster sighting that turned out to be a bunch of idiots trying to drum up tourists for their swamp tour business. God, I thought Dad was gonna lose his shit. I’d never seen him that pissed off before. You were what...six years old?”
“Yeah, something like that. Which means you were about ten.”
“I remember. What about it?”
“So, on the way down, you asked dad if we could stop at Disney World, and he said-”
“He said, maybe on the way back. So? What’s your point here, Sam? It’s not like he could put off a case just because his kid wanted to goof off for a day. People might have died. It’s not like he knew it was a hoax.” Anytime Sam starts in about their dad, it gets his hackles up. He knows his dad wouldn’t have won any father-of-the-year awards, but he doesn’t need to hear about it all the damn time.
“My point is that on the way back, Dad was too angry, too tired, too drunk, whatever. I don’t even think he remembered. Needless to say, you never got to go and I just thought, what with this being...well, I thought you might like to finally get your day at the Happiest Place on Earth.” Sam holds his hands out to his sides, hunching his shoulders, and smiles at him. It’s a watery smile, but it’s a smile.
Dean deflates. He does remember that day. He remembers seeing the signs on the expressway and thinking, ‘Sammy should get to go there.’ Dean himself hadn’t had much of a childhood, had never idolized cartoon characters or wanted to ride on the Dumbo ride or whatever. But he’d wanted Sam to be a kid for as long as possible. And going to Disney World was something most kids got to do.
It humbles him to think that even though he never gave that day another thought, Sam did. His six-year-old baby brother filed that piece of information away and kept it for almost twenty years. Sam thinks he’s always wanted to come here and never got the chance.
And now, here they are. Because his brother wants him to have fun.
“What the hell, let’s kick it in the ass!”
Okay, so Space Mountain is kind of epic. They sit two to a car, one in front and one behind. Dean chooses the front seat. Once they get going, it’s fast and it’s dark and he totally feels like he’s hurling through space. He’s got his arms up over his head and he’s screaming his fool head off, just because everyone else is doing it and he wants the whole experience, wants to see what the thrill is all about. And it is thrilling. He’s getting that adrenaline rush he sometimes gets when he’s on a hunt and the monster is chasing him and he thinks this might be the time he bites it, only without the feeling of real, mortal danger. It’s awesome. The only problem is that at some point, Sam’s orangutan-like arms come reaching over from the back seat to fasten like a second set of steel bars, holding him in place. What the hell? He tries to push Sam’s arms away, but they’re not budging for anything.
“Hands off the merchandise, Mr. Grabby McGrabinstien!” he yells over the clacking of the coaster on the rails and the whooshing of the air streaming past their faces and the cacophony of screams from the other passengers. He knows Sam hears him, yet the arms don’t move away. In fact, they only cinch that much tighter.
The ride comes to an end all too soon. Dean pushes the restraining bar up and, this time, Sam’s death-grip also releases.
Dean jumps up, exiting the vehicle and following the stream of people back outside. “That was awesome! Let’s go again, this time without the fond embrace, if it’s all the same to you.”
“Ahhh, I don’t know, Dean. Did that ride seem safe to you? There were a couple points I was sure you were gonna get sucked right out of the seat. If I hadn’t been holding you in, you might have ended up a smear on the walls.”
Yup, there it is again. Mother hen mode is back with a vengeance. Oh goody.
Dean gives Sam’s shoulder a light-hearted shove. “Dude, chill. Your PTSD is showing.”
In response, Sam stuffs his hands in his pockets, gaze fixed on a distant point. His haunted expression makes Dean wonder just exactly how many times the trickster made Sam witness his guts splattered all over one surface or another.
Death by roller coaster; probably not a joke to Sam.
There are two tried and true methods of dealing with fear in Dean’s playbook: 1) avoid whatever you’re afraid of like it’s the plague (i.e. flying in an airplane) or 2) repress the fuck out of it and carry on. Since there’s no way to avoid everything that Sam is currently afraid of, they’re going to have to go with plan B which Dean will refer to as immersion therapy from here on out.
Immersion therapy consists of doing what you’re afraid of over and over again until you’re not afraid of it anymore. That means he gets to do all the things Sam is scared for him to do, effectively doing the opposite of whatever Sam tells him. And eventually, Sam will see that his fears are unfounded. Of course, by the time the day is over, Sam will probably want to kill him, but hey, that’s part of the fun. It’s a win all the way around.
He’s looking for the riskiest ride the theme park has to offer, when he spots the giant Mickey Mouse shaped soft pretzels. Oh hell yeah, he needs that in his life.
“Look Sam, you want one?” he asks, pointing toward the snack food vendor.
Sam gives him an incredulous look, eyebrows raised. “Those pretzels are enormous. How can you even think about eating one of those after the donut you just ate? That pink-frosted monstrosity probably had about a thousand calories.”
Dean shrugs, unconcerned, and makes a beeline for the pretzel stand where he orders the cheese dipping sauce along with his snack. Calories, schmalories. He has the metabolism (as well as other things, heh heh) of a racehorse, thank you very much.
Mouth full of salty, cheesy chewy goodness, he says, “Come on, let’s get in line for this ride.”
The ride he’s pointing at is on top of another ride that’s on top of the snack stall. In other word, it’s way, way up in the air. The perfect place to start Sam’s immersion therapy.
“The Astro Orbiter? Are you sure you want to ride that one? What about your fear of heights?” Sam seems hopeful that Dean’s own fears will be enough to talk him out of it.
No such luck, Sammy.
“I don’t have a fear of heights. You’re confusing a fear of heights with a fear of being inside an enclosed, metal box miles off the ground with nothing holding it up but air, which is a completely rational fear, by the way.” He stalks purposefully to the end of the ride line, munching away at his pretzel and licking cheese sauce off his thumb. “You’re right Sam, the food here is pretty spectacular.”
The face Sam makes, mouth pinched and nose wrinkled, looks like he’s sucking on a lemon. “I was talking about the healthy options, not...that.” He nods at the last of the snack as it disappears into Dean’s mouth.
A little girl runs past them, squealing, “Stitch! Mommy, Mommy, can we go on the Stitch ride?” She’s not paying any attention to where she’s going, too intent on getting her mother’s permission while continuing her head-long dash. Another family with a stroller is coming from a different direction on a collision course. Before the impending crash can occur, Sam reaches out and snags the girl, handing her back to her grateful mother.
“Nice reflexes.” Dean claps his brother on the back. “Hold on. Is it happening again? How many times have you re-lived this day?” How many times have you watched me die this time, he leaves unasked.
“No, no, it’s just...uh, I had to learn to be on the lookout, you know...all the time.” Sam swallows and looks away.
“You know what? We don’t have to go on this ride. Line’s too long anyway.” A whooshing sound catches his attention, and Dean turns to see a sign that reads Tomorrowland Speedway. Now there’s a ride he can get behind. “What about that one?”
Sam’s gaze follows his finger and his smile brings a hint of dimples. “You got it. I get to drive though.”
“No way, man! Get your own damn car.” Dean sets off at a jog toward the racetrack.
“Dude, language. We’re surrounded by kids.” Sam keeps pace, and their shoulders brush as they forge a path through the crowds.
The line for the speedway is just as long as any of the other ride’s lines. It moves quickly though, and soon their turn arrives. The car that rolls up is a red roadster, and the one after that is yellow. No and no. Dean starts counting cars. The next black car is five cars back. He turns to the family of four behind them. “You can get in front of us.” He offers them his most genuine smile.
“What are you doing?” Sam whispers.
The next car up is bubblegum pink. “Your chariot, princess.” Dean smirks and ushers Sam into the pink vehicle, then jumps into the one behind which is a very manly black. It doesn’t hold a candle to his baby, but then again, nothing does.
They take off and Dean presses the gas pedal all the way down to the floorboards and...nothing happens. The car continues put-put-putting along. Luckily, Sam’s car is even slower. Using every trick he knows, Dean coaxes a little more speed out of his “race car” and takes every opportunity he finds to ram into Sam’s girly pink car. His cackling turns into a full blown belly-laugh when Sam turns around to glare at him and Dean’s car shoots forward, thwacking their tires together. Sam’s car lurches and his chest bounces off the steering wheel. It’s hilarious.
Next, they head over to Adventureland. Their first stop is Aloha Isle where Dean gets pineapple Dole whip over pineapple upside down cake and two cheeseburger spring rolls. He wolfs it all down, the crispy, hot spring rolls and cold, creamy Dole whip perfectly complimenting each other. Sam gets a Dole whip float and an order of spring rolls after Dean tells him for the fifth time how delicious they are.
By the time they’re done eating, it’s mid-morning, and the sun is cresting toward its zenith. Reaching into his backpack, Sam pulls out two bottles of water and hands one to Dean. “Drink up. You don’t want to get dehydrated.”
“Wow, you must’a been a Boy Scout in an earlier life. Be Prepared is like...your new motto, or something. What else do you have in that pack of yours, Mr. Eagle Scout?”
Sam starts rifling through his bag, but Dean puts up a hand, forestalling what he’s sure would have been an all-inclusive and extremely boring list of Disney essentials that Sam got from some blog site with the tag line ‘Let’s Win Disney World’ or something equally ridiculous. “I’m just joking. I don’t care what you have in there.”
With a huff, Sam closes the bag while looking pointedly at the still unopened water in Dean’s hand.
For a moment, Dean toys with the idea of refusing to drink the water as part of his immersion therapy. He quickly disregards the notion, however. Staying hydrated is just common sense. Their father beat that lesson into their heads often enough that he would feel like the worst hunter ever for disregarding it now. Plus, passing out from dehydration will not help him prove to his overprotective brother that he’s not about to keel over dead at the slightest provocation. So, he shrugs and downs about half the bottle in one go.
Unfortunately, his idea for immersion therapy seems to have backfired. Instead of Sam becoming desensitized to the dangers Dean faces on a daily basis, Dean seems to be getting used to Sam’s protective hovering, almost to the point where he stops looking out for himself and starts depending on his brother’s amazing reflexes to save the day. He loses track of the number of times Sam steps in between him and a perceived threat, whether it be from some unattended kid whipping a lightsaber around, or a trolley cart manned by a quick-moving, less than attentive park employee.
On the Jungle Cruise, Sam makes Dean sit in the aisle seat, as though he needs protecting from the very-obviously-fake animals. Dean makes up for the seating arrangements by asking the “tour guide” lots of questions about the ferocity of said animals and pretending to be terrified. His act makes the older kids and most of the parents on the ride laugh. Sam rolls his eyes a lot, but Dean can tell he thinks it’s funny too.
In Tarzan’s Treehouse, Sam does sort of save him from an act of bravery, or stupidity, depending on which of them is telling the story. Dean’s version of events has him carefully stepping out onto the edge of a platform, turning around, and leaning backward to better see the top of the tree they are currently climbing. He just wants to know how much farther they have to go. For planning purposes. He’s a planner. Shut up, he is. What he doesn’t expect (and really how could he?) is for some little heathen to come barreling around the spiral stairs set into the tree trunk. Dean takes an involuntary step to the side because he maybe sort of forgets that there’s no more platform over there. His foot hits air where he expects a firm surface, and his arms begin pinwheeling like some damn cartoon character, trying and failing to find his balance.
It’s mostly just embarrassing because he isn’t normally this clumsy. The longer he stays in this theme park, the more he feels like a gawky, uncoordinated kid. Maybe there’s a spell on this place, one that de-ages some adults back to childhood. If so, it seems mostly benign, and he’s willing to let it go unhindered.
Not the point, though. The point is, he’s usually very graceful, with cat-like reflexes and all that; ask anyone. And he probably would have been fine. Given another second or two, he most likely - almost definitely - would have found a way to steady himself.
But that’s when Sam’s fist of steel comes from out of nowhere to grab the collar of his t-shirt, pulling him to safety. Sam’s blazing eyes in a face gone sickly white tell the whole story. Death by fatal fall. Apparently, he’s been there and done that. Ouch.
“Uh, thanks Sam. You can let go now.”
Sam doesn’t let go. Like the contrary brat, he can sometimes be, Sam does exactly the opposite. (Yeah, he gets the irony of that.) A second hand reaches over, and Dean finds himself in a two-fisted hold as Sam swings him away from the edge and shoves him up against the trunk of the tree. “Keep your hands on the railing at all times or I swear I’ll take you back to the motel so fast your head will spin,” Sam hisses, clenched jaw muscles bulging.
Whoa, Sam’s pissed.
A pissed off Sam is nothing to laugh at. Well, yes it is, and Dean will be mocking him for this mercilessly later, adding a ‘young man’ to the end of Sam’s tirade for good measure. But, he really doesn’t want to go back to the motel yet...
Dean holds onto the railing the rest of the way up and all the way back down.
So much for immersion therapy.
Feeling like his masculinity might be coming into question, Dean does make a stand when they get to the bottom, and Sam fishes through his bag, pulling out the sunscreen again.
“Put this on, you’re starting to get pink. Did you put any on your neck like I told you to?”
“I’m not getting pink,” Dean counters. “Sunscreen is for delicate little flowers like you, Samantha. Real men don’t get sunburned. When have you ever seen me get a sunburn, huh?”
Sam pretends to think about it, then shoots back. “How about...like every summer when we were kids.”
“You’re just proving my point. That’s when we were kids. When have you seen me get sunburned recently?”
“You haven’t gotten sunburned recently because you wear a million layers no matter...okay, never mind. I knew the sunscreen was a long shot. Just wear this, okay?” Sam pulls a ball cap from his pack, expression hopeful. “At least it’ll protect your face.”
“Do I look like Bobby to you? I’m not wearing a ball cap. I’m fine, Sam. If you’re so worried, you wear it.”
“How will me wearing a ball cap keep you from getting sunburned?” Sam asks in an exasperated tone.
“I don’t know. You’re the smart one. Figure it out.” Dean knows he’s talking nonsense. Nonsense and subterfuge are two of the best weapons in any hunter’s arsenal. They can be very effective in confusing a foe. They work on Sam and his mission of emasculation now.
“Jesus, Dean. You can be such a stubborn ass.” Defeated, Sam puts the ball cap on his own head.
Ha, score another point for team Dean and the rebellion.
Feeling smug, he scans the signs in the area and sees one that has his inner child jumping for joy. “Pirates of the Caribbean! We gotta ride that one.” He’s seen all those movies so many damn times he can recite the dialogue word for word. Of all the rides in this place, that one is on the top of his must do list. If he had a must do Disney list, which he doesn’t.
“Okay, we’ll do Pirates and after that we can ride Small World.” Sam hikes the backpack over his shoulder.
“Small World? And get that lame-ass song stuck in my head. Hell no. That ride is for wusses. No way.”
“How do you even know about that song? You’ve never been here before.”
“I’ve heard about it, and everyone knows it’s lame. So, you can just forget about it.” A trickle of sweat rolls down Dean’s back. The day is getting hotter. He’s suddenly very glad Sam talked him out of wearing his customary hunting attire of jeans and three layers of shirts. He’d have succumbed to heat stroke by now for sure.
“Someone’s getting cranky,” Sam says in that annoying tone he uses when he thinks he knows more than anyone else.
Grown men do not get cranky. “I’m not cranky. I’m hangry. What can we eat around here?” Truth be told, he’s not especially hungry. That doesn’t stop him from pigging out on the Bacon Mac N Cheese Fries he buys from the nearest food stall. Carbs and more carbs topped with bacon. He might be in love.
Pirates is pretty cool, even if the boat ride doesn’t move fast enough or have any exciting spins or stomach-dropping plunges over waterfalls like he’d hoped. Captain Jack Sparrow makes a few appearances, and it’s all indoors with air conditioning. He’s acquired a new appreciation for air conditioning.
It’s all great until the ride breaks down. The boat they’re in is two feet from the end, within an easy hop to the disembarkation platform. A voice comes over the loud speaker, disrupting the chorus of yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate’s life for me. “Please stay seated. We’ll have the ride up and running momentarily.”
Dean looks at the platform, and it’s a no-brainer. He’s a busy man with rides to ride. He doesn’t have time to waste sitting in this boat when the exit is right there. He’s a rebel. No one tells him what to do. He laughs in the face of danger. He could make that jump with his eyes closed and his hands tied behind his back.
“No,” Sam says without even looking at him.
“No what? I didn’t say anything.”
“I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is no.”
“But...but it’s right there.” He points at the walkway because Sam must not see how close it is.
“Do you want to get kicked out of the park for not following the rules?”
The rules don’t apply to him. Surly Sam knows that.
Crossing his arms over his chest, Sam sits back and pretends to relax. Dean knows better though. He knows that Sam is laser-focused on him, and if he makes the slightest move to jump out of the boat, Sam will tackle him. A drop-down-drag-out fight will ensue and, even though he has every confidence he would win any such fight, they probably would get kicked out at that point which would suck.
“Don’t hafta follow your stupid rules,” Dean mutters under his breath. The display of defiance, small though it may be, makes him feel better. As the minutes tick by, and their boat gets no closer to completing its journey, Dean decides he may as well enjoy the down time. He puts his feet up on the side of the boat, leans back and closes his eyes. Somewhere behind them, stuck further inside the faulty ride, a group of people who also seem to be trying to make the best of the situation, start singing a medley of pop tunes. For a bunch of amateurs, they aren’t half bad.
He might have dozed off, when he feels two fingers press against the side of his neck. Cracking one eye open, he says, “I’m still alive, Sam.”
His brother jerks his hand away. “I-I know that. Obviously, y-you’re still alive.” Sam’s guilty stammering is the opposite of convincing.
Death by...what? Boredom? Death from out of nowhere? If Dean ever comes across that fucking trickster again, its ass is grass.
A few minutes later the ride starts up again, and it’s on to Frontierland where Dean sees someone walking around with the most awesome looking treat he’s ever seen. He needs one even though he’s really not hungry at all. It’s become a personal challenge to find the best food in every land in the park and Dean Winchester doesn’t back down from a challenge, no matter how painful.
The vendor selling enormous waffles covered in Nutella and fruit is easy to find. Room in his stomach, on the other hand, is not. Long past the point of being able to quickly scarf down a meal, Dean does finish the entire thing, although the last few bites take a long time to chew and swallow.
Sam gawks at him, and shakes his head as he throws most of his chicken and waffle thing in the trash, having only eaten about a quarter of it. “I cannot believe you ate that whole thing. You must be hella uncomfortable right about now.”
Putting a hand over his belly, Dean belches. “Never. My stomach is made of steel.”
Sam grimaces. As soon as he turns away, Dean’s wolfish grin slips. He rubs a few soothing circles over his aching midsection. Still, totally worth it.
Splash Mountain is next, and it has the longest line yet. The sun is beating down on them and Dean feels like he might be melting, sweat dripping down his temples. There’s not a lick of shade, not even a single scrawny tree to stand under. The bottle of water Sam presses into his hand gets upended over his head which provides a little relief, but not nearly enough because the water lost its refreshing coolness long ago.
Ninety minutes later, they’re finally boarding the ride.
“We spent most of the afternoon waiting for this. It better be worth it,” he gripes.
“It’s a popular ride. That probably means it’s a good one. Plus, all the lines get longer in the afternoon. According to...”
“Yeah, yeah, you don’t have to tell me. According to The Mouse Brigade blog, blah, blah blah.”
Sam chuckles. “The Mouse Brigade blog. That’s funny. You think you just made that up, but there probably is a blog called that out there. You’d be surprised how many people are obsessed with this place. There are more websites devoted to getting the most from a vacation at Disney than anywhere else.”
They take their seats in the ride, side by side. Dean looks at the smiling faces all around them. The people exiting the ride are slightly damp and most are laughing. The people boarding the gondolas look excited, the long wait forgotten amidst anticipation for the fun at hand.
He nods, “Yep, I get that.”
He’s never seen or heard of the movie this ride is based on, but he feels an immediate connection with the cunning and wily Brer Rabbit who always seems to be one step ahead of the villainous Brer Fox and Brer Bear. Also, the gravity-defying plummet over the waterfall at the end is everything he’d hoped it would be. He doesn’t even mind Sam’s arm across his lap, holding him firmly in his seat. Much. It just gives him the opportunity to throw his arms over his head and lean forward until he feels as though he’s going into the briar patch upside down with no worries about actually falling. Talk about an awesome head rush!
Back outside, the sun is hotter than ever.
Fantasyland is the only area they have yet to visit. There’s a reason for that. It starts with the word small and the second word rhymes with curled. That’s right, Small World is in Fantasyland and Dean has been avoiding it. But the time has finally come, and he’s going to have to put his foot down, or find a way to keep procrastinating, or both.
His face feels a little tight, and his arms have taken on a reddish sheen. It’s probably just because the sun is so bright it’s making him look redder than he is. His throat is parched. A beer would taste fantastic right about now.
“I need a beer, Sam. Please tell me one of these stalls sells alcohol.”
“Nope, for the most part, Disney World is dry,” his little brother says in his know-it-all voice that makes Dean want to argue just for spite.
“You’re wrong. There’s gotta be...there!” In plain view is a building with the words Gaston’s Tavern on it larger than life.
Sam starts to say something, but Dean is off at a trot. He orders LeFou’s Brew and a cinnamon roll. The drink he gets doesn’t look like any beer he’s ever had. It comes in a mug, but the liquid is frosted, like some kind of Slurpee. And the cinnamon roll...
“That cinnamon roll is as big as your head. There’s no way you can eat that thing after everything else you’ve had today.”
“Oh yeah? Challenge accepted. But first I gotta have some of this beer Slurpee. Beer Slurpee. Blurpee!” He takes a huge gulp and promptly spits it out all over Sam’s shirt. Serves Sam right for standing too close. “That is not beer.” He smacks his lips, eyeing the frothy mug. The liquid is tooth-rottingly sweet with a hint of tartness. And also it’s ice cold. He takes another mouthful. Now that he knows what to expect... “This stuff is amazing.” He glugs it down, letting the cold sooth his dry throat.
“It’s frozen apple juice,” Sam tells him as he wipes a napkin over his sticky wet t-shirt, mouth turned down in a scowl of distaste.
Dean hums in pleasure. Now back to the matter at hand, avoiding Small World and all the other kiddie rides that seem to be grouped in this section of the park. “There’s only one ride I’m interested in riding over here.” He takes an impressively large bite of cinnamon roll and, mouth too full to talk, points at the Spinning Teacups.
“Yeah, ‘cause that sounds like a great idea.” Sam rolls his eyes.
“It does, doesn’t it.” Dean steps into the Teacups line and continues to enjoy his cinnamon roll.
“Okay, if that’s what you really want.” Sam prances his high and mighty horse over to the line as well, smug look on his smug face.
Dean is really looking forward to spinning their cup so fast that his brother will be dizzy for days afterward.
The last of his cinnamon roll enters his mouth at the same time they reach the front of the line. His stomach is not real happy with him, but his taste buds are in heaven over the layers of sticky, flakey pastry. Licking his fingers clean of icing, he selects a purple teacup and sits down across from his brother, both hands on the large wheel in the center. The grin he turns on Sam is full of promise. “Get ready, bitch.”
“You’re gonna make yourself sick, not me, jerk.” Sam grins back at him, just like when they were kids, challenging each other to a staring match or locked in an epic thumb wrestling battle, both of them sure they would be the one to come out victorious.
Before the ride even gets started, Dean pulls hard on the wheel. Their teacup spins counterclockwise. The ride begins to whirl in a clockwise direction, and soon the landscape is nothing more than a blur. People walking past the ride become smears of color, glimpsed briefly and gone again in a flash. His laughter comes in bursts that mix and swirl with Sam’s chuckles and the delighted squeals of other riders, children and adults alike, all of whom are being flung around in what feels like a tempest. Dean is having the time of his life, until suddenly...he’s not.
Every bite of food and every drink he swallowed during the long, hot day begins to slosh and tumble inside his poor, abused tummy. The grip he has on the wheel loosens as his hands start to tremble, palms slick with sweat. Black spots like bloated flies float in front of his vision. Muscles cramping and head pounding, he doubles over.
“Oh shit, Dean! No, oh God, please no.”
Everything is still spinning, but Dean figures the ride must be over because Sam is crouched next to him, muttering incoherently.
“Don’t die. Nononono, don’t do this, Dean.”
Breath coming in gulping bursts, Dean manages to twist his fingers in his brother’s shirt. “Not gonna die, but I might puke all over your shoes. Just get me out of here, huh?”
Sam complies, looping Dean’s arm over his shoulders and supporting most of his weight. By the looks on people’s faces, he must be as green as he feels. A path opens in front of them, people parting to either side like the Red Sea. They get as far as the sidewalk where Dean’s legs give out, Sam holding and guiding him into a controlled sprawl instead of the outright collapse it would have been without his help.
With the world still tilting and spiraling on a crazy orbit around him, it’s all Dean can go to keep the contents of his stomach where they belong. Don’t puke, don’t puke, don’t puke. His head hangs between his knees as he takes controlled breaths in and out. He concentrates on the hand Sam has on his back. It grounds him, gives him something firm and solid and stationary to count on when everything else is in motion.
“Fuck, Dean. I thought you were dying.”
Death by gluttony, one of the seven deadly sins. Should have seen that one coming.
His stomach starts to settle and, after a while, he’s able to bring his head up.
Sam gives him a gentle thump on the back. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have let you on that ride. I knew it’d make you sick. I was being a childish prick. It was stupid. I’m so sorry.”
Sam being a childish prick is exactly what Dean wanted. It gives him hope that they’re going to get past this, that Sam is going to forget about all the times he’s had to watch him die, or at least not be as haunted by them. Until his year is up, that is, and he really doesn’t want the think about what will happen then, not today.
“Dude, you’re not my keeper. This wasn’t your fault. Besides...”
The sun has begun its decent. A few wispy clouds provide a pink haze on the horizon. It’s the perfect backdrop for the fairytale surroundings.
“I had a good time today.”
“You did?” Sam’s voice is soft and wistful.
Dean thinks about the rides and the food and the laughter. He can’t remember a single day during his childhood that even came close to this day. It strikes him that today was the fulfillment of a wish he never knew he had - the chance to be a kid, to live one day of his nonexistent youth. In bringing him here, Sam has given him a gift he didn’t even know he wanted.
“Even though I let you eat too much and not put on enough sunscreen? Dude, your legs look like candy canes. Did you purposefully put the sunscreen on in stripes? You sure you had fun today?”
Holding a hand up to block the setting sun, Dean stretches his legs out in front of him and gets a close look at them. What. The. Fuck. Sam is right. His legs are streaked red and white, just like a candy cane. That’s just peachy. Unfortunately, now that he sees them, he’s also aware of a stinging, tenderness to the skin on his arms and face too.
Still...Sam is grinning at him, a bright happy expression, dimples on full display like they rarely are these days, and he can’t bring himself to be upset.
He looks at his brother as a smile breaks out across his own face. Bumping their shoulders together he says, “Yeah man, Best Day Ever!”