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: ~3,400
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 13 The Gypsy
John is so indescribably happy to have his youngest son back. He feels like Sammy has been returned to him after a long absence even though the boy has been with him the entire time. The difference between adult Sammy and child Sammy is like night and day though and having one feels like losing the other.
He's going to miss grown up Sam, no doubt about it. Having Sam around was as good as having a partner, someone to bounce ideas off of, someone he trusted to help protect his family, someone he could rely on. Even though they seemed to butt heads more often than not, the camaraderie had been worth it.
When Sammy first changed into an adult, John had missed the child and now that he's changed into a child, he misses the adult. The sense of loss makes his skin crawl, makes him want to know more about the wish and the gypsy who granted it. He doesn't understand what triggers it, not exactly, only a vague notion of 'when Dean needs a grown up Sam to help him' which could mean anything. A child's wish to be big enough to help his older brother doesn't give him much to go on. The randomness of his transformation, the unpredictability, is what makes it dangerous.
So, he needs to find the gypsy. Finding her should be easy enough, but John's not sure what he's going to do with her once he's got her.
He takes his boys back to the motel. It's late and they're tired. One more night in the motel to give them a good night's rest will do them all good. They'll leave in the morning once he has some idea of which direction to head in and he'll spend some time once the kids are asleep calling his contacts to see if anyone knows anything about gypsy wish fulfillment. Discretion will be important in talking to the other hunters; some of them are fanatics who see evil in everything having to do with the supernatural. John hates to admit he's normally in that camp, wants to believe he's still open minded enough to see some purity and light left in the world. It gets harder every day and to be fair, he's never seen anything good come out of anything touched by the supernatural.
He'll need to keep the specifics of why he wants to know under wraps when talking to others until he can determine exactly what's going on.
"C'mon, let's get you two ready for bed." John opens the back door of the Impala and shepherds both boys into the motel room.
They look wiped out, but Sammy isn't crying any more. The waterworks were the result of a four year old trying to deal with the terrifying events of the evening and have subsided to a few sniffles under Dean's calming influence. Neither boy seems to have sustained any additional injuries.
Dean shuffles awkwardly over to his bed, Sammy glued to his side. The smaller boy has yet to release his death grip on his brother's unbroken arm, reluctant to be separated from his source of comfort, as though Dean is his own personal security blanket.
John wants to check Sammy over for burns resulting from his flight into the small ritual fire and he figures bath time will be the perfect time to do so while also giving him a chance to reconnect with his youngest, besides Dean needs a break from his little brother who is attached as firmly as a barnacle to the side of a boat. "Dean, go lay down while I give Sammy his bath."
"No, I want Dean a do it." Sammy's face scrunches up, tears already threatening. The youngster is overly tired, bringing out the demanding side of his personality.
"It's okay, I'll give Sammy his bath." Dean somehow brings his sling across his body so he can gently curl the fingers sticking out of the cast in his little brother's hair. The fingers are grimy, accumulated dirt from three weeks of inadequate hand washing due to the cast cling tenaciously to the thin digits.
John frowns, not liking the insubordination. "Dean's cast will get wet, if he gives you your bath, Sammy. You don't want that do you?"
Blinking wide hazel eyes and looking up, Sammy turns the full force of his pleading gaze on Dean.
"I'll put a plastic bag over it, squirt. No worries." Dean quickly assures Sammy and uses his own not inconsiderable pleading gaze on John.
So much for his bright idea to pry the two boys apart. This wish and the resulting events have forged an even stronger bond between his sons. Not two months ago John would have laid down money that it wasn't possible for those two to become any closer. He would have lost that bet. Separation is obviously not going to happen now without World War III breaking out and none of them have the energy to spare on a battle.
"Fine." John huffs.
He helps tape a plastic bag over Dean's cast and maneuvers a squirming Sammy out of his sooty, charred clothing and into the tub filled with warm sudsy bath water. As long as Dean is part of the process, Sammy submits to the bath, so the older boy sits on the edge of the tub and rubs a soapy wash cloth along chubby arms and legs. The little boy still carries some baby fat. Clean skin reveals no tell tale red burn marks, in fact, the little boy made it through the ordeal without a single scratch.
It comes as no surprise to John when Sammy insists on sleeping in Dean's bed and Dean has no objections. Since the plastic bag is already taped over his cast, the older boy takes a quick shower before climbing exhausted into the bed. Sammy tucks up against his brother's side and Dean flings an arm protectively across the little boy's shoulders. They're both asleep almost immediately.
Sighing heavily, John watches his boys and marvels at the comfort they give each other so freely. He's glad they're close, they're going to need each other. Hunting is much easier when you have someone you trust to watch your back. A hunting partner is a luxury he only rarely indulges in.
Thinking about the few people he trusts to watch his back reminds him of the phone calls he needs to make. There's a pay phone across the street at the convenience store. He checks the salt lines at the door and window, grabs his wallet and motel key, and glances at his sons once more on his way out the door. The most trusted of his contacts are at the top of his list, Missouri, Bobby, Pastor Jim. He'll work his way down the list from there until he's got every scrap of information any of them know about gypsy legends. This might take a while.
Early morning light filtering into the motel room through gauzy curtains finds John already awake with a bunch of information on gypsy lore and a lead on the traveling carnival. Obtaining the itinerary for the carnival had been as easy as he'd thought it would be, not even remotely tapping the depths of his sleuthing skills. A call to the shopping center near their old apartment had netted him the name of the operating company for the outfit and a contact name and number. From there he was able to get a list of dates and cities for the carnival's next stops. As it turns out, they're scheduled to be in College Station, Texas tomorrow, a mere seven hour drive from Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Most of the information he had garnered so far on gypsies had come from Missouri, which made a lot of sense since Missouri had spent some time honing her skills in a gypsy camp when she'd been younger. The psychic had never heard of gypsies being able to grant wishes, but she had known some of the gypsy legends and had been able to tell him a lot about their lifestyle and culture.
John makes one more phone call from the pay phone to let Mr. Niland know the spirit has been taken care of and to direct the condo manager to forward his payment to one of John's many post office boxes.
The boys are up, dressed, teeth brushed, and their few belongings packed in no time flat. They know the drill.
Breakfast for growing boys is a necessity and a nearby IHOP looks clean enough to be acceptable. The pre-work crowd has already come and gone, leaving the majority of the tables empty. The only other patrons are two young women, infants in strollers at their sides, sipping coffee and talking quietly a few tables over. A plump woman wearing a blue and white checked apron and her grey hair pulled up in a neat bun on the top of her head comes to take their order.
"My name is Linda. I'll be waiting on you today. What can I get you fine young men this morning?" She asks, smiling warmly.
Dean has the huge laminated menu open in front of him, having rejected the children's menu at first sight. "Pancakes and bacon." He announces with a grin. "Please."
"I want the same as Dean." Sammy wastes no time placing his order and then bounces happily in his seat.
"Big brothers are cool, aren't they? I bet you want to be just like yours, don't you?" Linda stage whispers to Sammy as though she's sharing a great secret.
The dark-haired boy shoots a sideways look at his big brother and nods solemnly.
John orders eggs, sausage, toast and coffee for himself, milk for the boys, and hands all the menus to Linda with a soft thank you.
After the waitress leaves, the younger boy's mouth pops open in a round O. "Did you remember to give Dean his pills this morning, Dad?" The words sound so strange coming from the tiny child and if it weren't for the voice, which is at least an octave too high, John would have sworn adult Sam was back.
The tips of Dean's ears flush pink as he looks down at the table. "I don't need them anymore." He mumbles.
There's no reason for Dean to be embarrassed, he was never embarrassed by Sammy administering his medication, but he clearly is embarrassed by the thought of his father taking over the responsibility. John wonders what the difference could be and then decides he probably doesn't want to know. Sometimes it's easier to just take things at face value. "I'm depending on you to tell me when you need more pain meds, Dean. You understand?"
"Yes, sir." The older boy fingers his paper napkin, licks his bottom lip.
When their food arrives all three Winchesters eye the plates approvingly. They've been eating mostly from the convenience store for the past three weeks so this food looks heaven made. John digs in with gusto and it takes him a couple of minutes before he notices Sammy trying to cut his pancakes into bite-sized pieces using his knife and fork. He lacks the manual dexterity to complete the task, his chubby little fingers just can't handle the implements precisely enough and the longer he tries, the more frustrated he becomes.
It's never been an issue before and John suddenly realizes that's because Dean normally cuts up Sammy's food for him. Dean can't cut up Sammy's food one-handed, he can't even cut up his own food and is currently using the edge of his fork to divide his pancakes into large chunks.
The family dynamic has been ruffled. Sammy has become accustomed to doing things for himself as well as for Dean and Dean doesn't automatically jump to do everything for his younger brother anymore. It may take some time to fall back into their normal roles. In the meantime, John stops eating to help both his sons chop up their pancakes.
At the end of the meal, Sammy licks sweet sticky syrup from his fingers then wipes them on his shirt. Dean clucks his tongue in disapproval, wetting a napkin in a glass of water and carefully cleaning each of his little brother's fingers. So maybe the family dynamic won't take long to restore after all.
Widening his eyes dramatically, Sammy jerks his head up and says, "Dad, is the mean ghost lady really gone?"
"Yup, she's really, truly gone." John assures the little boy. He'd checked the area thoroughly with the EMF meter to make sure before carrying his kids to the car last night.
Dimples appear in the boy's cheeks as he smiles. "Oh good, then I can take Dean swimming in the pool 'cause I told him I would when he was feeling better and now he's feeling lots better, right Dean?"
"When did you tell me you'd take me swimming, squirt?" Dean asks, looking perplexed.
The older boy doesn't remember, he'd been in too much pain and on a cocktail of medication when an adult Sam had tried to distract him with promises of future fun in the pool they'd glimpsed at the condo. Dean doesn't remember, but John does and apparently Sammy does too.
"We can't go to the condo, we have to hit the road, places to be, people to see and all that." Wiping his face with a napkin, John stands up and pulls his wallet out of a back pocket.
A scowl appears on Sammy's face, his little brows knit together. "But why?"
Explaining the whys and hows has never been one of John's strong points. It's a waste of time, not to mention effort. He has his reasons, good ones, and his kids should respect him enough to accept his reasons without question. The sign of a true leader is the trust he inspires in his followers. "Never mind why. You boys go get in the car."
Dean is quick to get out of his seat and take Sammy's hand to lead him out to the car. As they move through the nearly empty restaurant, John hears the younger boy say, "I told you I'd take you swimming and now I can't so that's a lie. I don't wanna be a liar, Dean."
"It's not a lie if I don't remember. It doesn't matter, we can go swimming some other time." The older boy responds.
Depending on the outcome of his finding the gypsy wish giver, they may be spending some time in Texas or they may be following a traveling carnival or they may finish up rapidly and be on to something altogether different. Long range plans are impossible to make in his line of business, but finding a swimming pool somewhere along the way shouldn't be a problem. John makes a silent vow to stop at a pool once Dean's cast comes off in another couple weeks. Summer will be well under way by then.
The drive through cattle country to College Station is humid and hot. Heat waves shimmer on the asphalt, always in the distance, disappearing by the time the Impala reaches the next dip in the road.
Their destination is the city park, a large field surrounding a man-made lake, and they arrive in the late afternoon. A dozen ducks paddle aimlessly from one edge of the lake to the other. One end of the grassy field contains some playground equipment, the other end is completely open. John assumes the carnival will set up in the open section when they get to town in the morning.
Since he doesn't know how long they'll have to stay in the area and they're running low on funds anyway, John decides they can hunker down in the car for the night. A driving tour of the town takes only half an hour. He buys hamburgers and ice cream at the local Dairy Queen before returning to the park and shooing the boys out of the car to run through the grass, chase each other over the playground equipment and feed the ducks leftover potato chips until they're sweaty and tired. It's good to see them both laughing and enjoying themselves. Dean's still not as fast on his feet as before his back injuries, but he's getting there, healing up nicely.
No one bothers them and as darkness falls they curl up for the night, Dean and Sammy sharing the back seat and John taking the front.
The carnival pulls in at dawn the next day. John closely watches roadies erecting tents all across the once empty field. The fortune teller's tent goes up near the ticket booth. Not long after, two women approach the tent, a young woman with long red hair hanging in ringlets to the middle of her back, and a much older woman wearing a scarf on her head. They both have long skirts and white blouses.
John wakes Dean up and the boy confirms the older woman is the gypsy who granted Sammy's wish.
This could go several ways, the gypsy could confess to what she's done, she could deny it, she might try to flee, or she might become violent, wielding power or magic unknown. John studies the two women, tries to get a feel for their nature. They don't strike him as sinister. Of course, he doesn't trust them, but he doesn't think they're going to start casting spells the minute they see him either.
He wants to capture the gypsy's honest, genuine reaction to seeing the two boys, doesn't want to give her any warning or give her time to school her expression.
"C'mon boys. Let's go talk to your gypsy." John puts a light tone in his voice so they don't get nervous.
Fisting his eyes, Sammy leans into his brother's side sleepily and blinks up at his dad. "Is she here?"
In reply, John takes each of his sons by the hand and walks toward the red and white striped tent and the two women standing in front of it.
The older of the two senses their approach first. She looks at them and gasps, a trembling hand flies up to cover her mouth. As soon as they're within talking distance she says, "Oh you poor babies, I'm so sorry. Please believe me, I had no idea."
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