I Want For Christmas
note: This story is set in the VS 'verse)
Winchester turned earnest eyes up to his mother, a hand
placed on each of her knees as he contemplated her tummy
glanced down at her three-year-old, attention momentarily
drawn away from Jimmy Stewart attempting to lasso the
moon for Donna Reed as the old black and white movie
played out to their garishly-festooned living room.
“Yes honey?” she said distractedly, leaning
against her husband’s shoulder and smiling contentedly
as John gently massaged the small bump that was the
object of her son’s rapt attention.
Santa gonna know what Sammy wants for Christmas?”
parents’ eyes cut to the little boy in front of
them, who was chewing his lip pensively as he continued
to gaze at Mary’s stomach.
barely suppressed an amused grin. “Honey, Sammy
has everything he needs right here,” she said,
taking one of Dean’s hands from her knee and adding
it to her husband’s, already pressed against her
frowned. “But doesn’t he get a present?”
this year, bud,” John chuckled, ruffling his son’s
hair, much to the boy’s annoyance when he was
trying to ask such a serious and important question.
that sucks!” Dean burst out, frown deepening.
matched his expression with a frown of her own. “Dean
John Winchester, who taught you that word?” she
demanded in her best “Mommy” voice.
eyes slid briefly to his father, who was shaking his
head at him in silent warning.
didn’t even look at her husband, settling for
poking him hard in the ribs with one elbow.
should learn to watch his mouth around little ears,”
Mary admonished her husband.
ears aren’t little,” Dean protested.
caught his chin with one hand. “Which is why they
hear things they’re not supposed to,” she
considered that. “But it does suck!”
he continued. “Why doesn’t Sammy get presents?”
sighed, running one thumb gently over her son’s
cheekbone. “Because he can’t play with them
yet,” she said.
he’ll be able to soon,” Dean persisted.
“Right? When he comes out? And he’ll have
missed Christmas by – like – ever,
and then he won’t get any presents until next
what do you think your baby brother would want for Christmas,
kiddo?” John asked, trying to keep the amused
tone out of his voice. He knew it made Dean crazy when
he thought Daddy was making fun of him.
thought about that, before shrugging. “I don’t
know,” he admitted finally, eyes turning slyly
up towards his mother. “Maybe a squirt gun. Like
those ones we saw in the mall...”
not going to be big enough to play with a squirt gun
for a while there, kiddo,” John pointed out, laughing
nervously as he glanced furtively at his wife, waiting
for the inevitable explosion as he attempted to head
her off at the pass.
narrowed her eyes. “Sammy’s [i]never[/i]
going to be big enough to play with a squirt gun, Dean,”
she said, voice oddly flat and emotionless as she looked
pointedly at her husband rather than at her son. “And
neither is his big brother.”
Mommy!” Dean burst out, fairly bouncing
on his toes in annoyance. “Daddy said
I could ask Santa for a squirt gun! Daddy said –”
don’t care what Daddy said,” Mary intoned,
attention back on her son. “My son is
not getting any kind of gun. Ever. And that’s
final.” She folded her arms across her chest,
–” John began.
we talked about this,” Mary snapped. “No
guns. Not ever. Not even toy ones.”
sighed. “I know –”
Mom–!” Dean protested
Mary put one hand on her son’s shoulder, attempting
to still the self-righteous indignation thrumming through
his little body. “No guns,” she repeated.
“Not ever. Okay?”
screwed up his face, the makings of a marathon sulk
beginning to darken his features, before Mary once again
caught hold of his chin, turning his big eyes up to
what’s the point asking Santa for presents if
I can’t have the presents I want?”
sighed. “We don’t always get what we want,
Dean,” she told him. “Sometimes other people
can see better than we can what we need and what we
don’t need.” She glanced once more at her
husband, who had thus far wisely stayed out of the argument.
“And there are much better things for little boys
to be playing with than guns. Okay?”
nodded reluctantly. “So maybe I should ask Santa
for a different present for Sammy?”
you should,” Mary agreed.
considered. “Maybe Sammy would like a bike?”
His eyes flitted hopefully to his dad, who grinned big,
like he’d just won the Lotto.
he would,” John said, dark eyes twinkling mischievously.
I could teach him to ride it when he’s big enough,”
you could do that.”
someone would have to teach me how to ride
a bike first,” Dean continued, looking carefully
up at his dad through lowered lashes. “So I guess
I ought to ask Santa for a bike for me, too.”
nodded sagely. “That sounds like a plan, little
man,” he said, again ruffling his son’s
time Dean didn’t grimace or try to push John’s
hand away. “And Santa will know that’s what
I want?” he clarified, big eyes twice their usual
unnaturally huge size.
he will,” Dad confirmed.
if I didn’t get to see him at the mall to ask
if you didn’t get to see him to ask him. You just
have to think it and he’ll know.”
face screwed up in concentration. “So Santa’s
like God?” he asked at length.
again both parents’ eyes skidded to an abrupt
halt on their son’s innocent-looking face.
–?” Mary wasn’t sure how to respond
to what her son had just asked.
blinked owlishly at her. “Well God knows what
we’re thinking without us having to say it,”
he pointed out. “Because God knows what’s
in our hearts as well as what’s in our heads.
Right? So asking Santa for a bike is like praying to
God to keep Mommy and Daddy and Sammy safe. Right?”
His question was met by twin blank stares. “Right?”
exactly, honey,” Mary stammered, glancing at John
for a much-needed assist.
if Santa knows what we want without us having to ask
him for it, he must be like God,” Dean pressed
just works for God,” John put in, causing Mary
to grimace at him like he’d just grown two heads,
eyebrows disappearing into her hair. “What?”
he mouthed innocently, spreading his arms wide.
works for God?” Dean repeated, demanding
turned back to him. “Only on Christmas, honey,”
she said, smiling indulgently at him before turning
another grimace on her husband. “He just helps
out. Once a year. Making children happy.”
nodded. “Okay,” he said. “So I don’t
have to pray to Santa to get what I want for Christmas?”
have to pray to God so that he’ll tell
Santa what I want for Christmas.”
I have to ask for Sammy too.”
he’s too little to ask for himself right now.”
we might not get what we want because we don’t
always get what we want because sometimes God doesn’t
think it’ll be good for us so tells Santa not
to give it to us.”
Dean said with some finality, laying his hand once more
on Mommy’s tummy. “Then it’s okay
that I can’t get a squirt gun,” he decided
is?” John squinted at him.
nodded, attention fixed squarely on Mommy’s tummy.
“God’s right. I don’t need a squirt
gun,” he said carefully. “’Cause I
already got what I wanted for Christmas.”
did?” Mary said, gently stroking his hair.
nodded. “Uh-huh,” he said, suddenly bending
over and planting a kiss on Mommy’s tummy. “Merry
swallowed the sudden lump in her throat, fingers again
gently caressing her son’s cheek. “Time
for bed, sweetie,” she said, voice unaccountably
thick as she blinked rapidly. “Or Santa won’t
be visiting us at all.”
nodded. “Okay, Mommy.”
stood, shooing the little boy towards the stairs. “C’mon,
kiddo. Those teeth aren’t going to brush themselves.”
stretched, reluctantly rising to his feet. “Just
like that bike’s not going to build itself either...”
December 24th, 1983
Winchester stood at his father’s shoulder, baby
Sammy balanced precariously against his chest like a
football, tiny fingers tangled in the back of his big
brother’s hair as he snored contentedly to himself
like an eighty-year-old with a serious sinus problem.
Dean repeated when Daddy didn’t turn around, dark
liquid eyes fixed sightlessly on the picture lying on
the desk in front of him.
frowned as Sammy shifted against his shoulder. The baby
was heavy, but he didn’t want to put him to bed
no response, and Dean shrugged, figuring Daddy didn’t
want to talk just like Dean hadn’t wanted to talk
for the first few weeks after the fire.
understood. He missed Mommy too.
Sammy further up onto his shoulder he turned and headed
noiselessly for the kitchen, where a haze of displaced
flour almost blotted out the twinkling Christmas lights
strung around the window. “Auntie Kate?”
Kate turned and beamed down at him as he entered the
room, oblivious to the smudge of flour smeared across
her cheek and sprinkled liberally through her dark hair.
“Hey there, Cookie Monster!” she greeted
him, her smile turning to a frown as she noted the little
boy struggling manfully to try and keep his baby brother
held aloft in arms too tired and too small for the task.
Instantly, she dropped the big wooden spoon she was
brandishing and held out her arms for Sammy. “Here,
let me take him for a while –”
took a step backwards, shaking his head and tightening
his hold on the sleeping baby. “You’ll wake
Kate’s big smile never faltered. “Okay,
hon, but he needs to go to bed soon. Just like his big
nodded earnestly, expression deadly serious. “I
need to ask you a question first,” he said, glancing
nervously over his shoulder at Daddy, still visible
as he raked a hand through disheveled hair and down
over scratchy stubble.
baby, shoot.” Auntie Kate wiped her hands on the
apron tied lopsidedly about her waist before taking
a tray full of cookies off the counter and slamming
them into the oven.
Kate’s cookies may have smelt like Mommy’s
cookies but Auntie Kate didn’t smell like Mommy,
not at all.
Kate, how will Santa know where to find us?” Dean
asked eventually, glancing down at his sleeping brother.
“Now we don’t live in our house anymore.”
Kate’s smile finally faltered a little, big brown
eyes suddenly sad. Dean knew she wasn’t his real
auntie, just like Uncle Mike wasn’t his real uncle,
but she was nice to him and she showed him how to make
formula and change Sammy’s stinky diapers. “Of
course Santa will find you, baby!” she burst out,
leaning down and running her thumb along his freckled
cheekbone. “He’s magic, remember? And you
and Sammy have been such good boys. No way is he gonna
lose track of you, believe me!”
brow furrowed. “But I told Mommy what me and Sammy
wanted for Christmas. You know. Before.”
Kate nodded, pulling out one of the big wooden kitchen
chairs and falling into it tiredly. She caught Dean
around the middle, hauling him and Sammy both up onto
her lap. “I’m sure your mommy told Santa
what you wanted for Christmas,” she whispered
into his hair, pulling him closer to her.
didn’t resist, leaning back against her as his
eyes drifted to his dad, still hunched over the old
desk in the living room, which had served as the surviving
Winchesters’ home for the last couple of months.
“But what if I changed my mind?” he asked
Santa will know that too,” Auntie Kate assured
him, gently stroking his hair.
I don’t have to tell him?” Dean twisted
a little to look up at her hopefully. “Because
he’ll just know, right?”
Kate nodded. “That’s right, baby.”
again looked at his father. “But we don’t
always get what we want, do we?” he continued.
“Sometimes we can’t.”
Kate followed the direction of his gaze. “No,
sweetie,” she said softly, continuing to stroke
his hair. “Sometimes we can’t.”
Mommy’s an angel in Heaven now?” Dean sounded
uncertain, but his tone remained cautiously hopeful.
“That’s why she can’t come home for
Kate blinked, turning her head slightly as she wiped
at something on her cheek. “That’s right,
sweetheart,” she said. “Your mommy’s
an angel now. That’s why she won’t be with
you for Christmas, even though I know she would be if
she could be.”
she’s watching over us? From Heaven? With all
the other angels?”
she’ll tell Santa where we are?”
bet she will.”
nodded, satisfied. “Okay then.” He pulled
his baby brother tighter to his chest, inclining his
head down toward him. “Hear that, Sammy? Mommy’s
gonna tell Santa how to find us. And Daddy. So don’t
should put your brother to bed now, Dean,” Auntie
Kate muttered, hoisting the little boy back onto his
feet. “Otherwise he’s gonna be real grouchy
in the morning.”
nodded, padding silently away from her and into the
living room, glancing once at the photograph of Mommy
Daddy was still gazing at, before carefully leaning
over into the crib at the side of the couch and placing
his brother gently in amongst the blankets.
as a bug in a rug,” he said quietly, repeating
a phrase Mommy had used when tucking him in at night
when he was little. “Don’t worry, Sammy,”
he continued, gently pushing some of Sammy’s curls
off of his forehead. “Mommy and all the other
angels are watching over us. And she’ll tell Santa
where to find us, you’ll see. So don’t be
scared, okay? ’Cause I’m right here, so
you don’t need to worry about anything.”
bent down and planted a clumsy kiss on the baby’s
forehead, Sammy opening one sleepy eye, looking up at
him enquiringly before immediately falling back to sleep.
December 24th, 1987
you were supposed to be asleep an hour ago!”
leaned against the doorjamb of the tiny box room he
and Sammy had laughingly called their bedroom for the
last couple of months. His little brother was literally
bouncing on the bed as he gazed out of the window and
up into the frosty night sky.
I’m waiting!” Sammy informed him, not turning
away from the window as the bedsprings groaned beneath
took a single step into the room, bringing him directly
to the foot of the bed he had been forced to share with
the little rugrat while they were stuck in this tiny
godforsaken hellhole Dad liked to call an apartment.
“Dad’ll go postal if he wakes up and you’re
not asleep,” he informed the younger boy, sitting
himself on the edge of the bed and following the direction
of Sammy’s gaze – no mean feat considering
the kid’s bouncing almost ejected him onto the
floor the second he sat down. He frowned, regaining
his balance while he replayed what Sam had just said
in his head. “Hold on,” he muttered. “Waiting
stopped bouncing long enough to fix his brother with
an incredulous stare. “For Santa, dummy!”
he burst out, rolling his eyes in that spectacularly
exaggerated fashion he had so recently perfected. “And
Daddy won’t be mad at me.”
raised an eyebrow. “And why’s that, squirt?”
he asked, wondering fleetingly where Dad kept the Dramamine
as Sammy renewed his bouncing.
I’m adorable,” Sammy told him knowingly.
“Mrs. Duvitski said so.”
smothered a snigger. “Crazy old bat can’t
even see you properly through those bottle-bottom glasses
of hers. Probably thinks you’re a stray cat. Or
a really shaggy puppy.” He ruffled Sammy’s
thick thatch of dark hair exactly the way he knew his
baby brother hated, Sammy shrugging away his hand indignantly.
not!” he protested. “She said Santa was
gonna bring me lots of presents!”
yeah?” Dean again arched an eyebrow. “Because
you’re so adorable?”
Sammy confirmed with an emphatic nod of his head which
sent a tsunami of curls falling into his eyes. “He’s
gonna bring me an Optimus Prime for Christmas.”
Sam faltered slightly, excited bouncing stilling suddenly.
glanced up at him at the abrupt cessation of movement.
boy down the hall,” Sam said slowly. “He
was lyin’, right?”
didn’t answer right away, eyes drifting back out
to the distant Oklahoma City skyline.
Sam blinked big liquid eyes in a plaintive plea for
hesitated for a second, startling the younger boy by
suddenly pointing out of the window. “Aw, Sammy,
you missed it!” he burst out excitedly.
spun in the direction of Dean’s finger. “What?”
he demanded, squinting, as if that would bring the crisp
night sky into sharper focus.
sleigh!” Dean exclaimed enthusiastically. “Santa’s
sleigh! I swear I just saw it! Right over there! Rudolph’s
shiny red honker up front and everything!”
eyes widened to flying saucer proportions. “Where?”
he asked excitedly, scanning the night sky as he craned
his neck in a fruitless attempt to see over the five
story apartment building opposite.
that way!” Dean pointed again. “He’s
almost here, Sammy! Better get in bed and go to sleep
or he’ll think you’ve been naughty and you’ll
never get an Optimus Prime!”
it was possible, Sammy’s eyes widened still further,
and he immediately launched himself backwards, landing
on his butt with an ominous twang of ancient bedsprings,
blankets up to his neck and eyes clamped tightly shut
before Dean could even say, “G’night, Sammy.”
made a show of pushing up Sam’s blankets before
standing and making for the doorway, where his dad was
now leaning against the doorjamb, a wistfully unreadable
smile on his face.
beckoned his eldest out of the room, closing the door
behind him quietly.
Dean asked, unnerved by the expression of mirth still
plastered across his father’s face. Dad didn’t
smile a whole lot these days, so Dean was never entirely
sure what it meant.
did the kid down the hall say to him?” Dad asked,
inclining his head slightly to one side as he pulled
out one of the battered old metal kitchen chairs and
collapsed into it gratefully.
shrugged, eyes sliding down to examine the new hole
in the toe of his sneakers.
sighed. “He told Sammy Santa was just made up
by grown-ups to keep their kids in line all year.”
sucked in a theatrical breath. “That lying little
eyes shot to his father’s face. “Dad!”
Dad snorted. “Like you don’t hear that word
all the time at school.”
shrugged again, shoving his hands into the pockets of
what did Sammy make of that?” Dad continued his
was real upset, Dad,” Dean admitted. “Kept
asking me if it was true.”
nodded. “That why you just told him you saw Santa’s
shocked expression lingered somewhere between fearful
and affronted. “You were listening?”
hard not to in an apartment this size, son. Especially
with Sammy doing his whole Tigger routine on the bed.”
looked down at his toes again. “Sorry.”
Dad held out a hand to his son, and Dean took a step
toward him obediently, Dad wrapping a muscular arm around
his middle and pulling him against his side so that
the boy was leaning a bony shoulder against his dad’s
chest. “So you lied to Sammy, huh? That’s
what’s eating you?”
didn’t look at him, just nodded slightly. “Mom
said it was okay to tell white lies sometimes,”
he said hopefully. “And Sammy’s just a baby.
He’s too little not to believe in Santa Claus.”
nodded. “Unlike you, huh? Big man o’ the
shrugged again. “Just ’cause I’m too
old to believe in Santa doesn’t mean Sammy is
ran a large hand over his boy’s head affectionately.
“You’re right about that, kiddo.”
blinked up at him. “I am?”
And you’re a good brother, you know. Looking out
for him like that.”
sighed, eyes suddenly too old for his face. “I
want him to be a kid for as long as he can be,”
he admitted quietly.
didn’t react to that at first, eyes focused on
something in the middle distance until he finally pressed
rough lips against the top of his boy’s head,
much to Dean’s surprise.
Dean tried to push him away, just as his father decided
to blow a loud raspberry into his hair. “Ew! Gross!”
Dean wriggled free of his dad’s clutching arms,
a mock-scowl on his face. “Just ’cause it’s
Christmas doesn’t mean I’m gonna let you
get all girlie with me, Dad.”
brushed his son’s cheek with the back of his index
finger, before his face split into a grin. “Excuse
me, Deanna,” he said, cuffing the boy
playfully on the chin before reaching behind him to
retrieve a plastic bag that had been stashed behind
the trash can under the sink.
face lit up instantly. “You got it?”
nodded, pulling a large, brightly-colored box out of
the bag. “Optimus Prime, right?” he said,
presenting the Transformer toy to his son, along with
a roll of cheap wrapping paper – the stuff your
fingers tore right through if you weren’t really
careful – and a roll of duct tape.
grinned, racing over to one of the kitchen drawers and
fumbling for a Sharpie and a sheet of notepaper before
settling at the table, pen poised thoughtfully. “Who
says there’s no Santa Claus?” he muttered,
glancing briefly up at his dad before beginning to write
carefully on the notepaper in large black letters:
Christmas, Sammy. Love from Dad and Dean.”
December 24th, 1988
to sleep, Sammy.”
go to sleep!”
sat up abruptly, snapping on the bedside light and squinting
at his little brother who was laid flat on his back
in the bed beside him, eyes wide as they stared unblinkingly
up at the ceiling.
followed his brother’s intense gaze, but all he
could see was a particularly disgusting patch of mold
creeping across the ancient motel room’s uneven
are we looking at?”
waiting for Santa,” Sam informed him seriously.
you think he’s gonna come through the ceiling?”
Jim said Santa comes down the chim – chimbley,”
Sam told his brother knowledgeably, eyes never straying
from the tile directly above his head.
Dean corrected him automatically. “And we don’t
have a chimney, Einstein.” He paused for a second
before finally asking, “You even know what a chimney
surveillance of the ceiling was broken just long enough
for him to give Dean one of his patented Sammy Eye Rolls.
“Yes. It’s up on the roof. And
that’s where I’m looking.”
you’re looking at the ceiling,” Dean informed
him. “The roof’s the outside part.”
When Sam didn’t respond to that little bit of
information, Dean shrugged. “Sammy, Santa’s
not gonna Bat-Climb up the side of some crappy motel
just so’s he can crash down through the ceiling
and give you presents.”
screwed up his face indignantly. “Is too. Pastor
Jim says he loves all his children equally, so he’ll
make a special effort to bring us presents ’cause
even though we don’t live anywhere with a chimbley
we’re just as important as that kid who tried
to steal your lunch at school last week.”
frowned as Sam finally took the time to draw breath.
“How’d you know about that?”
your girlfriend, huh?”
blushed scarlet. “Is not! She’s
like – ten, Sammy.”
Dean shrugged dismissively.
said you punched his lights out,” Sam continued.
tiny smile flickered at the corner of Dean’s mouth.
don’t I have any lights?”
did a double take, rising up on one elbow. “Huh?”
you punched that bully’s lights out. Why don’t
I have any lights?”
smothered a grin, shaking his head in exasperation.
“Maybe you should ask Santa for some when he comes
crashing through the ceiling on his Bat-Rope.”
beamed at him. “I will!” he burst out. “Thanks,
that’s God, by the way,” Dean added by way
was Sam’s turn to look confused, finally diverting
his attention away from the ceiling to squint at his
Pastor Jim was talking about,” Dean clarified.
“It’s God who loves all his children equally,
not Santa, stupid.”
not stupid,” Sammy pouted, before suddenly screwing
up his face in panic. “Then maybe Santa doesn’t
know where we are like God knows!” he burst out.
“How will Santa know where to find us?”
He sat bolt upright, clambering onto his knees and grabbing
at the shoulder of Dean’s t-shirt urgently. “Dean,
how will Santa find us? We’ve lived in three different
places since my birthday!”
sighed, somewhere in the back of his brain remembering
a similar conversation he’d once had with Auntie
Kate. “Well I don’t know about you, Sammy,”
he said slowly, wringing every last ounce of panicked
anguish out of his kid brother just because he could.
“Because I don’t know how naughty or how
nice you’ve been this year –”
practically bounced on the bed. “I’ve been
nice! I’ve been nice! Dean, you know
I’ve been nice! You’ll tell him, right?
You’ll tell Santa?”
hold your horses there, squirt,” Dean continued.
was just gonna say that it doesn’t matter whether
you’ve been naughty or nice this year because
I’ve been awesome so he’s sure
to find me!”
squinted at him. “You are so not nicer
than me!” he protested.
grinned lopsidedly. “Yeah, but Santa loves the
naughty in me way more than he loves the nice in you!
And he’s known me a lot longer. We’re tight.”
looked like he might burst into tears right there. “But
– but – that’s not fair –!”
what I’m saying is,” Dean continued,
“that seeing as Santa knows where to find me
because I’m just so impossibly awesome –”
scowled at him. “Are not,” he muttered under
Then he’ll also know where to find my geeky kid
brother, won’t he?”
blinked at him. “He will?”
he will,” Dean assured him. “You think Santa
would dare not bring my little brother a Christmas
shook his head fervently, eyes widening. “Nuh-uh,”
he agreed, a distinct look of awe creeping over his
straight,” Dean confirmed. “And you know
considered. “’Cause you’d punch his
nodded. “You betcha! His lights and Rudolph’s
stupid glowing nose! And then they’d never find
their way to all the other children’s houses because
they wouldn’t be able to see where they were flyin’!”
giggled. “Awesome!” he breathed, just gazing
at Dean like he was every Christmas present he’d
ever dreamed of having.
affected his best cool, casual Steve McQueen voice.
“That I am, little brother. That I am.”
cool slipped a notch, however, when Sam suddenly decided
to wrap his arms around the older boy’s neck,
declaring, “You’re an awesome big
allowed Sam to hug him for a second before making an
exaggerated retching noise while he attempted to extricate
himself from the younger boy’s clinging arms.
“Jeez, you are such a girl sometimes,
Samantha!” he declared. “Now go to sleep,
or I’ll tell Santa to take a hike. We don’t
need his charity anyway.”
giggled again, burrowing down beneath the threadbare
blankets. “I want lights,” he insisted,
voice sounding suddenly sleepy.
be sure to tell him that.”
December 24th, 1989
glanced up from the grainy black and white image flickering
across the ancient TV in the corner of Pastor Jim’s
living room, just as George found Zuzu’s petals
in his watch pocket. He vaguely remembered watching
this movie with his mom what seemed like forever ago,
but he didn’t think he’d ever gotten to
see the end of it.
is it, Sammy?” He responded to the needy whine
in his little brother’s voice, rising reluctantly
from the lumpy old couch and joining the younger boy
over by the frosty window, where his nose was virtually
pressed up against the glass.
coming home, right?” Sam turned anxious eyes up
to his big brother, worrying his bottom lip with a wobbly
tooth. “He didn’t ditch us on Christmas?”
sighed heavily. “Of course he didn’t ditch
us,” he assured his brother, the certainty in
his voice unable to make the journey up to his eyes.
“It’s just sometimes he has places he needs
to be where we can’t go with him.”
blinked up at him. “To stop the bad things?”
nodded. “Yeah. To stop the bad things.”
keep everyone safe in their beds.”
nodded again. “You betcha. You know Dad’s
a little like Santa Claus,” he added with a little
frowned. “He’s not fat,” he protested.
“And his beard’s not white.”
Dean agreed. “And he doesn’t have a big
sack of toys, either,” he added. “But he’s
out there tonight,” he continued, nodding towards
the window, “just like Santa. We might not see
him, but he’s there. And because he’s there,
everyone can sleep safe in their beds. And that’s
a better Christmas present than some sucky toy wrapped
in crappy paper will ever be, right?”
considered that. “I guess,” he said slowly,
sticking out his lower lip a little. “But I still
want some presents. Even if they are sucky.”
wrapped an arm round his kid brother’s shoulder
affectionately. “You don’t need Christmas
presents, Sammy,” he said confidently.
frown deepened. “Why not?” he asked.
grinned broadly. “’Cause you got me instead.”
rolled his eyes. “I’d rather have a Game
I’d rather win the Lotto. But we don’t always
get what we want, Sammy.”
eyes drifted back to the window and Pastor Jim’s
empty driveway. “I guess not,” he said quietly.
squeezed his shoulder, pulling him in closer. “Maybe
next year, geekboy.”
nodded. “Maybe next year.”
December 24th, 1990
TV flickered It’s A Wonderful Life across
Pastor Jim’s living room and Dean felt like he
was trapped in a real life re-run.
was standing at the window, staring out at the empty
knew what Sam was going to ask before he asked it, dragging
himself up from the couch to stand next to his brother,
one arm draped around the smaller boy’s shoulders.
“C’mon, Sammy. Pastor Jim made popcorn –”
why he left us here, right?” Sam mumbled as if
Dean hadn’t spoken, eyes moist and lip trembling
ever-so-slightly. “That’s why he left us
at Pastor Jim’s? Because he isn’t coming
back for Christmas?”
sighed. “Sammy, whatever Dad’s hunting doesn’t
give a rat’s ass it’s Christmas –”
polite cough from the direction of the doorway caused
both boys to whip their heads around to where Pastor
Jim Murphy was precariously balancing a tray of cranberry
cookies and a big bowl of popcorn.
immediately turned his attention to his sneakers, mumbling
something that sounded vaguely like, “Sorry, Pastor
pastor arched a silvery eyebrow, depositing the food
on the low coffee table in front of the couch before
turning his attention back to the boys. “I think
what your brother meant to say, Sam –”
he glanced at Dean, whose cheeks reddened noticeably,
“– is that Evil doesn’t respect the
sanctity of our holidays, no matter how much we wish
it would. I’m sure your dad wants to be here with
you just as badly as you want him to be here,
but even at Christmas, we don’t always get what
frowned minutely at the familiarity of that statement.
Pastor Jim,” Sam began, clearly thinking it through
as he talked. “Doesn’t Dad deserve
to get what he wants? He’s been risking his life
killing bad things and protecting people all year, so
it wouldn’t be fair if he didn’t get what
he wished for. Right?” He blinked up at Dean
before turning his gaze down to the scuffed wooden floorboards.
“Maybe he doesn’t really want to
be with us at Christmas –”
–” Dean began, but Pastor Jim cut him off
with a wave of his hand.
of course he wants to be here!” he corrected him.
“And you’re right, he does so much and risks
so much to keep the evil in this world at bay that it
wouldn’t be fair if he didn’t get
a little of what he wants. Which is why he left you
boys here with me tonight. Because he wants
you to be safe, Sam. More than anything else in the
world. And he knows that you will be, here with me.”
nodded minutely, and Pastor Jim shrugged.
he continued. “There are a lot worse places he
could have left you, believe me.”
looked up at him. “Where?” he asked quietly,
no challenge in the question, just the merest hint of
petulance lingering in his pushed out lower lip.
Jim considered him for a moment. “Alone,”
he said eventually. “He could have left you alone,
glanced at Dean out of the corner of his eye. “I
wouldn’t have been alone,” he said. “Even
if Dad hadn’t brought us here.”
Jim smiled enigmatically. “And that makes you
both very lucky boys, don’t you think?”
shrugged when Sam didn’t respond immediately.
“I guess getting stuck with him for another year
ain’t so bad,” he said, smiling slightly
as he nudged his brother with one shoulder. “I
think I can manage to put up with that. Just this once.”
face broke into a tiny grin. “So long as there
are presents,” he said quietly.
snorted. “You’re getting greedy in your
old age, Sammy.”
nodded. “I’ve been good this year.”
you have, kiddo.”
looked up at him. “Merry Christmas, Dean.”
else Sam might have said was drowned out by the approaching
rumble of a V8 engine, tires on gravel and the creak
of an old Chevy door.
December 24th, 1993
quiet voice drifted over the big pile of library books
stacked up on the wobbly kitchenette table and across
the living room, to where Dean sat on the edge of a
lumpy motel room bed, chin cupped in hands resting on
been staring out the window for at least an hour now,
and Sam knew exactly what was going through his big
brother’s head, despite his desperately trying
to deny it.
ditched us again, didn’t he?”
attention never strayed from the empty motel parking
lot, so sure that at any minute he’d see the obsidian
flash of the Impala’s sleek lines, hear the throaty
grumble of her powerful V8, that he couldn’t bring
himself to look away.
he ditched us on Christmas! Again!”
didn’t ditch us, Sammy…”
Same song, different verse.
why’s he not here? Huh?” Sam’s eyes
flashed angrily, his accusing voice steadily growing
in volume. “Why’s he not here,
sighed. “I don’t know, Sammy,” he
admitted, gaze drifting back to the parking lot. “Maybe
he got held up. Maybe people’s lives depend on
his being someplace else tonight.”
crap, Dean.” Sam’s attention was back on
his books, but he wasn’t really seeing any of
them. “It’s an excuse. For all the times
he’s not here when he should be. He cares more
about hunting than about us.”
attention snapped to his brother. “Don’t
you ever say that!” he burst out, the
anger in his voice causing Sam to look back up at him.
“Sam, why d’you think Dad started hunting
in the first place?”
blinked at him for a second, as if unsure whether that
was a trick question. “Revenge,” he replied
at length. “For Mom.”
dammit!” Dean got to his feet and took a step
toward his brother. “He does it to protect
us, Sam –”
leaving us alone in a crummy motel surrounded by drug
dealers and hookers? On Christmas?”
I’m tired of it. Everyone else gets their tree
and their cranberry sauce and their turkey. What do
we ever get, huh? Cold pizza and some black n’
white movie on a TV set so old its original owner was
cracked a grin at that, despite Sam’s righteous
indignation. “Fred Flintstone?” he repeated.
“You know that makes you Bam-Bam, right?”
wilted slightly. “You are such an ass,”
he muttered, shaking his head in an attempt to disguise
the reluctant smile creeping across his face.
hungry ass,” Dean amended, nudging Sam with one
shoulder as he passed him on his way into the murky
kitchenette. “You want pizza?”
snorted. “Is it cold?”
ain’t the Stone Age, Barney,” Dean replied.
“We got a microwave.”
swiveled around to look at his brother, who had reached
up into one of the nearly-bare cupboards and produced
a slightly suspect-looking jar that had probably passed
its sell-by date when Dean was still in diapers.
jelly,” Dean informed him with a quirky grin.
“You reckon that’ll go with pepperoni?”
reluctantly slid from his chair and joined his brother
in the kitchen, pulling open the fridge and peering
in cautiously. “Garlic. Cheez Whiz. Ooh, Reddi-wip!”
raised an eyebrow. “Bingo! We got dessert!”
looked over at him appraisingly, the smile melting a
little from his face as the microwave pinged just as
Dean began to feel his little brother’s eyes on
he asked uncertainly, pausing as he extricated the pizza
from the oven.
shrugged. “Pastor Jim was right you know.”
frowned. “That I’m going to Hell for looking
dumbass!” Sam’s expression became suddenly
wistful. “There are worse places we could
just looked at him in slightly stunned silence for a
second. “Church?” he offered at length.
“School? Some god-awful Christmas movie with Macaulay
Culkin in it?”
Sam replied seriously.
averted his eyes a little, no answer to that. After
a second he cleared his throat. “You wanna watch
some crappy black n’ white movie on our crappy
Stone Age TV?”
nodded. “No place I’d rather be.”
December 24th, 1997
aware of that, Sam!”
continued stuffing munitions into the canvas bag laid
out on the kitchen table, stubbornly refusing to even
look at his youngest son.
eldest was standing in the doorway between the kitchen/diner
and bedroom, biting down on his lip as he glanced from
brother to father and back again.
John barked, finally looking up as he shouldered the
bag and made to stride for the apartment door. “You
know the drill. Be sure and watch out for your brother.”
not a kid anymore, Dad! I don’t need babysitting!”
Sam snapped, before Dean’s obligatory “Yes
sir,” had even left his mouth, and suddenly the
younger boy was right in his father’s path, immovable
object versus irresistible force. He jerked his head
angrily in Dean’s direction as his face colored
scarlet. “Take him with you if you want. It’s
not like we’re gonna be getting that Hallmark
family Christmas anyway!”
stared his son down, the storm clouds gathering in Sam’s
eyes more than reflected in his own. “Oh, you’d
like that, huh? If I took off with Dean and left you
here all by yourself so you could wallow in a little
bit more self pity? Justify all that angst you got brewing
in that head of yours? Sam, in case you hadn’t
noticed, the world doesn’t owe you a favor. We
don’t always get what we want. Deal with it.”
think I can’t take care of myself?” Sam
demanded, pulling himself up to his full height and
doing his damnedest to get in John’s face despite
still being a head shorter than his father. “I
don’t need you to watch out for me! On Christmas
or any other day! I don’t need either of you!”
might not have caught Dean flinch at that but Sam sure
as hell did.
yet he continued to scowl at his brother despite the
sudden realization that he wasn’t actually sure
who he was mad at: Dean for looking like a kicked puppy
or himself for putting that look on his face to begin
with. “What?” he snapped, still glaring
at his older sibling, unwilling to back down in case
it made him look weak in his father’s eyes.
Dean shrugged, looking as though he might say something,
before abruptly changing his mind and averting his eyes
to the threadbare brown carpet.
continued to regard his younger son, mouth set into
a thin line. “Dean,” he said evenly, not
once looking away from Sam. “Pack your gear. You’re
coming with me. Sam wants to spend Christmas alone,
he can spend it alone.”
just blinked at him, blanching visibly. “Dad –”
was breathing hard, fists clenched furiously at his
continued to stare him down.
took a step toward them. “Dad, we can’t
just –” he began, but was cut off by his
father’s terse bark.
alone time might do your brother good, Dean. Give him
time to rethink that attitude of his.”
his age you were taking care of the both of you.”
was taking care of the both of us a long time
before he was my age, Dad,” Sam interjected, voice
now deceptively calm.
just stared at him, nostrils flaring.
–” Dean began.
I said get your gear!” John growled.“Now!”
whirled on him, and he took an instant step back. “I
have to make that an order?”
not in the army, Dad,” Sam weighed back in. “You
can’t order him around.”
spun back to his youngest. “Unlike you,”
he said, “he respects the chain of command
an adult now, Dad! He can make his own decisions!
on my watch –”
not his drill sergeant!”
I am his father, and at least he respects
and I don’t? Is that what you’re saying?
Because he’s the perfect little soldier
does what’s best for this family –”
asking ‘how high’ every time you yell ‘jump’?”
disobey an order, people die, and he gets that
because he’s terrified of disappointing you, Dad!”
you two stop talking about me like I’m
not even here?!”
and Sam abruptly halted mid-tirade, toe to toe, eyeball
to eyeball, both turning to look at Dean as if only
just remembering he was in the room.
took a deep breath, mentally counting to ten before
he said something he might later regret. “Sammy,”
he said finally, making a move toward his brother. “Don’t
you have a book to read or something?”
just looked at him.
jumped to it immediately, as if startled by the sudden
authority in his brother’s voice, backing away
from his father and slinking back toward the couch,
which was buried in textbooks and Sam’s copious
continued to stare at the spot where his youngest son
had been standing, breathing heard through rigidly clenched
teeth as he flexed his fists at his sides.
weren’t you headed out?” Dean continued.
dark eyes flicked grudgingly to his older son. “You
were coming with me,” he reminded him, voice softening
shook his head, unconsciously moving to stand between
his father and his brother. “No,” he said
softly. “I wasn’t. If you’re going,
you’re going by yourself, Dad.”
nodded slightly, one shoulder turning toward the door
and away from his sons.
you could stay,” Dean added, the hopefulness in
his voice not reflected in the unutterably sad expression
in his eyes, as if he already knew what he father’s
answer would be.
as expected, shook his head. “Can’t,”
he said shortly, although the word seemed to linger
on his tongue. “It’s a bad sonofabitch,
Dean. People could die.”
nodded. “Evil doesn’t respect the holidays,”
he said with a weak grin. “I get it.”
nodded just once, eyes lingering on his younger son,
who had already hidden himself stubbornly behind the
biggest textbook he could find. He hitched the canvas
bag up onto his shoulder and made to grasp the door
Christmas, Dad.” Dean took a step toward him,
and he half-turned hesitantly.
Christmas, Dean,” John returned, tugging open
the door before pausing briefly on the threshold. “Merry
he was gone.
December 24th, 2000
don’t you get it?” Sam snapped, exasperated.
“It’s the same stupid deal, year in, year
I get it, Sam,” Dean replied. “Last year
you were mad because he wasn’t here.
This year you’re mad because he is.”
could just make out Sam rolling his eyes in the misty
moonlight. “It’s not like we’re all
sitting around a roaring fire sipping eggnog and singing
Christmas carols, Dean,” Sam returned, grunting
as his shovel bit into the hard frosty earth beneath
raised an eyebrow, stamping on the solid ground with
one booted foot. “Oh, I dunno,” he said,
mouth quirking into a grin. “I figure a foot and
a half and we’ll have the roaring fire at least.”
snorted. “Not exactly what I had in mind, Dean,”
he said, throwing his shovelful of earth up onto the
side of the grave. “Yule logs and salted corpses
aren’t really interchangeable.”
shrugged. “You do the best with what you got,
Sammy,” he said. “And at least we get to
be a family this year.”
glanced beyond Dean’s shoulder to where Dad was
digging up another grave on the far side of the cemetery:
Two brothers on opposing sides of the Civil War who
had been staging their own ghostly re-enactment in the
middle of downtown Wichita. He knew Dad got jumpy whenever
they got this close to Lawrence, but he had been surprised
as all hell when the old man had actually suggested
his sons accompany him on such a relatively simple job.
It certainly wasn’t a three-man operation, anyway.
to break it to you, bro,” Sam said, “but
hanging out in cemeteries and digging up moldy skeletons
isn’t exactly what most families do to celebrate
inclined his head to the side before he resumed digging.
“I hate eggnog.”
least you get to drink it legally this year,”
Sam reminded him.
snorted. “Yeah, ’cause I never touched a
drop of any alcoholic beverage before I hit
nodded. “Yeah right, so that was some other Dean
Winchester who spiked the punch at his junior prom,
was framed, Sammy! I swear I never touched the stuff!”
grinned, hit by a sudden wave of nostalgia as his eyes
drifted once more to his father. “Remember when
he got me that Optimus Prime that year?” he said.
“God, I loved that thing!”
you decided you wanted to know what would happen if
you put it in the microwave.”
I was a curious kid, what can I tellya?”
Nuts. There’s a fine line between the two.”
Dean paused in his digging, following the direction
of Sam’s gaze.
d’you think he really brought us with him?”
Sam asked wistfully.
he’s tired of being alone on Christmas,”
Dean replied quietly. “Wants us to be together
as a family for a change.”
cut his eyes to his brother before resuming his digging,
an almost guilty expression flashing briefly across
his face. “Or maybe he knows,” he muttered
under his breath.
frowned at him. “Knows what?” he asked uncertainly.
shrugged. “That we can’t go on like this
straightened, frown deepening in increased puzzlement.
“Whaddya mean, Sammy?” he asked hesitantly.
“Of course we can! You, me and Dad. That’s
the way it’s supposed to be – the way it’s
always gonna be!”
sad little smile flickered across Sam’s face and
suddenly he couldn’t look at his brother anymore.
“Let’s hurry up and get this sucker toasted,
huh?” he said by way of unsubtle subject change.
“Before we freeze our asses off.”
slapped his forehead. “Dammit, Sammy, you gotta
be psychic! How’d you know I got you a new ass
grinned, clapping his big brother on the shoulder. “Thanks
bro,” he said sarcastically. “But one ass
in the family is more than enough.”
grimaced at him. “Well merry Christmas to you
December 24th, 2001
You know, you could call him if you want.”
Winchester sat huddled over on the edge of his lumpy
bed, his one good arm holding a cell phone between trembling
was the drugs, Dean told himself, standing awkwardly
in the doorway, for the hundredth time that day checking
to make sure his old man hadn’t checked out on
him. That Thoughtform had done a real number on him
before Dean had gotten there and dissipated it back
to oblivion where it belonged.
broken arm, two broken ribs, sprained ankle, concussion:
Dean hadn’t seen Dad get this beat up on a hunt
since…well, since before. He was taking
more risks, being more reckless; “Shoulda
been a three-man job, Dean. Can’t do the work
o’ two without getting a little knocked around.”
was crap and they both knew it.
the hunt had always been Dad’s cure for everything.
Figured if he put himself through enough physical pain
he wouldn’t even notice the emotional pain trying
to split his heart in two.
was crap too, but neither one of them was admitting
sighed heavily, tossing the cell phone onto the bedside
table and picking up the TV remote instead, clicking
on the old black n’ white portable Dean had rescued
from some dumpster somewhere.
gals won’t you come out tonight? Come out tonight,
come out tonight…”
grimaced. Mom’s favorite Christmas movie. Sam’s
favorite Christmas movie.
switched the TV back off and maneuvered himself onto
the pillows piled against the headboard, wincing slightly
at the pain around his midsection.
made his choice, Dean,” John said quietly, leaning
his head back and closing his eyes. “He has to
live with that.”
kicked his toe against the bottom of the doorjamb. “So
didn’t respond, eyes closed, just like the subject.
still our family, Dad,” Dean persisted, taking
a hesitant step into the room. “It’s –
it’s Christmas and – and –”
what?” John’s eyes snapped open. “How
many times has he called us since he left? Huh? Did
he call to see how we got through Halloween? Did he
call to see how we got through your mother’s –”
He broke off, gritting his teeth and banging his head
back against the pillows.
a two-way street, Dad,” Dean reminded him softly.
“Have you even tried to call him?”
eyes snapped open again abruptly. “No, have you?”
shifted from foot to foot but made no answer.
dug his hands in his pockets and bowed his head, still
pick up? Even one time?”
met his father’s accusative gaze reluctantly,
not bothering to shake his head because he knew John
already knew the answer.
closed his eyes again, turning his head away from his
son, and Dean thought about walking away. But he didn’t.
is about family,” he said instead. “Dad,
Sammy’s still family –”
opened his eyes again, but didn’t turn to face
his son. “Not anymore,” he said, voice incongruously
soft. “He lost that privilege when he walked away.”
we’re all the family we have left –”
and me,” John said suddenly, head whipping back
in his son’s direction as he pinned him with an
intense gaze. “You and me, Dean. That’s
all we have left. We’re all we have left.”
don’t mean that.”
closed his eyes again and fell back against his pillows,
mouth set into a thin line, clearly signaling the end
of the conversation.
nodded reluctantly, backing out of the room and drifting
into the living room, sitting heavily on the couch before
reaching behind it and pulling out a square box clumsily
wrapped up in newspaper and duct tape.
shook the package absently, smiling at the familiar
sound. Sammy had always wanted a Magic 8-Ball when then
were kids – something about wishing he could see
into the future – so when Dean spotted one in
a thrift store when they passed through Baltimore last
summer, he figured it’d be a nice surprise for
his kid brother at Christmas.
– surprise! Sammy wasn’t here for him to
give it to. Sammy had left them – gone off to
be Mr. Normal, Joe College, Mr. Stanford. Didn’t
see that one coming, did you Dean?
with me, Dean…
right. Like that was ever an option.
tossed the box onto the rickety table in front of him
and leaned back against the couch, cell phone suddenly
in his hand, just as John’s had been earlier.
John, however, Dean had no excuse for his fingers shaking.
through the names in his address book, his eyes lingered
for entirely too long on the entry that read, “Sammy’s
cell,” much as they had so many times in the last
couple of months.
a breath, he pushed the “call” button, forgetting
to exhale as he listened intently.
ring. Two. Three.
this is Sam –”
breathed out, for a second pressing the cool plastic
of the phone against his forehead.
I can’t come to the phone right now, but if you
leave a message I’ll get back to you…”
your surname happens to be Winchester
Dean thought bitterly.
took another breath, a ragged sigh preceding the beep
of Sam’s voicemail.
Christmas, Sammy. Call me. Please?”
Dad. Just checking in.”
worried at a piece of duct tape sticking out from the
messily-wrapped package on the Formica table in front
of him as he pressed his cell phone to the other ear
with a sigh.
y’know, it’s been a few days since I heard
voicemail didn’t reply to Dean’s unasked
you – if you get time – y’know, it’d
be great to hear from you. Not that I’m worrying
about you or anything girlie like that.”
forced a laugh he didn’t feel.
y’know Dad, if you wanna call me – well
you know where I’ll be, right?”
paused for a second, fiddling with the duct tape some
more. “And – and it’d be nice to see
you for the holidays. We could maybe make ourselves
sick on popcorn and old Christmas movies, huh? I guess
It’s A Wonderful Life oughta be showing
on at least six channels…”
Dean. Too needy…
yeah. Well, in case I don’t see you, merry Christmas,
Dad. And stay safe.”
clicked the “end call” button, closing his
phone and tapping it thoughtfully against his lips.
was okay. Dean would know if he wasn’t.
don’t always get what we want. Even at Christmas.
father had been distant of late, disappearing on more
solo hunts, immersed in solitary research. At first
Dean had thought Dad had just been trying to give him
a little space after…after Sam; give him a little
more independence; make him stand on his own two feet.
it was more than that.
couple of times John had swung by Palo Alto, not telling
Dean about it until it was already done, never giving
his eldest son the chance to protest that he
might like to visit Palo Alto too.
wasn’t visiting, Dean,” Dad had told him
shortly. “And it’s not like we have time
for you to be off drinking lattes with you brother in
the local Starbucks.”
had laughed at that. Like he would be seen dead drinking
a latte! Like he would be seen dead or undead
drinking a latte in Starbucks!
hadn’t laughed. “Reconnaissance,”
he’d explained. “I needed to check your
brother was okay. Especially now, since –”
had never gotten him to finish that sentence.
what, Dad?” he’d asked. “What aren’t
you telling me?”
then there was another solo hunt, and it seemed as if
Dean had blinked and suddenly he was in Seattle while
Dad was in Denver, and something was going down, something
involving Sammy, maybe even something involving what
happened to their mom that awful November night, but
Dean just couldn’t get his dad to trust him enough
to tell him what that something was.
it was, Dad obviously didn’t want Dean to be any
part of it.
sighed, fingers gripping the cell phone a little too
tightly as he stared so hard at the screen it was a
miracle he didn’t crack the plastic.
Please ring. Dad. Sammy. Someone…
leaned forward on the chair, tossing the phone onto
the table and scraping his fingers through his hair.
he may have had more of a clue where Sam was than Dad
right now, but he had no real idea where Sam actually
called on Sam’s birthday expecting to have his
usual chat with his brother’s voicemail, only
for a cheery female voice to answer, “Sam Winchester’s
personal secretary. How may I direct your call?”
collapsed into a fit of giggles, and Dean swore he heard
his little brother’s laughter ringing out in the
he was with her tonight – the giggly girl who
sounded blonde and fizzy, like she belonged in a shampoo
wondered what they’d be doing and who they’d
be doing it with. What did college kids do for the holidays?
Maybe they were in some dorm room eating popcorn and
watching cheesy Christmas movies; maybe they had their
own place with a tree and decorations and all the stuff
Dean vaguely remember from that life before,
the one he kept locked away inside in case remembering
hurt Dad and not remembering hurt Sam.
maybe they were with her family – Mom,
Dad, brothers, sisters.
celebrating with someone else’s family.
irrational wave of anger overcame him then, and he snatched
the package up off the table, holding it over his head
as if he was planning on pitching it into the motel
took a breath.
the whiskey’s fault Dad wasn’t here to drink
it with him.
the whiskey’s fault Sam was hundreds of miles
away celebrating Christmas with someone else’s
put the bottle down, figuring if Dad didn’t show
up tonight he could always give it to the old man as
a New Year’s present.
bottle wobbled slightly in its wrapping as Dean slumped
back in the chair, leaning an elbow on the table as
his eyes drifted back to the cell phone…
as the screen flickered into life and the opening bars
of Deep Purple’s Smoke On The Water screeched
into the empty room.
took another breath, willing himself not to snatch the
cell phone up too eagerly as he glanced at the caller
ID displayed on the screen.
tiny smile flickered at the edges of his mouth as he
slowly opened the phone, flaring into near-incandescence
as he spoke into the receiver.
December 24th, 2007
looked up from the menu, eyes slightly crossed after
having spent several long minutes squinting at tiny
bright red lettering on garish bright green background.
they say ‘Reindeer Ravioli’ they’re
quirked a smile at his brother, whose frown was gradually
deepening the further he worked his way down the little
diner’s Christmas bill of fare.
from the same food group as the ‘Elf Escalope,’”
he suggested, his attention drifting casually to the
door as the little bell rang to signal a new customer,
and a trucker the size of Mount Rushmore stomped his
way to a booth in back.
up Christmas bullshit food?” Dean suggested with
a raised eyebrow.
much,” Sam agreed, grinning. “C’mon,
where’s your Christmas spirit, man? Kids love
this kinda stuff –”
Sack o’ Sausage’?” Dean’s eyebrows
seemed in imminent danger of shooting right off his
forehead. “C’mon! That doesn’t even
sound legal to me!”
shrugged. “Maybe we should just go for the turkey
burger,” he conceded.
North Pole Fries?”
a Frosty the Snowman Shake.”
shook his head. “I don’t think I’ll
ever get Christmas, even if I live to be ninety.”
to get?” Sam asked. “Santa. Reindeer. Presents.”
spending a whole lot of money they don’t have
buying stuff no one wants for people they don’t
really like,” Dean added.
nodded. “That about sums it up.”
grunted and returned to scanning the menu.
Santa’s not gonna leave anything in your stocking
didn’t even look up. “All I want in stockings
is a frisky blonde with a low tolerance for alcohol
and a sister.”
bah humbug to you too, Dean.”
did look up at that. “What’s the point of
it all?” he asked, gesturing around himself at
the garishly-decorated diner, the tiny waitress with
the sparkly antlers and the miserable-looking cook wearing
a limp Santa hat on his greasy head. “Christmas
is supposed to be about – about goodwill to man
and – and – peace on earth and – and
–” he looked away, back down at the menu.
died and made you Yoko Ono?”
didn’t respond immediately, running a hand through
his hair before slumping slightly in his seat. “It’s
supposed to be about family, Sam,” he managed
at length. “Not about tinsel and turkey.”
nodded slowly. “Hey, I’m right here, man,”
he said carefully. “I’m not going anywhere.”
eyes flicked up at his brother and he sighed. “I
guess,” he murmured softly. “At least we
got each other this year,”
grinned crookedly. “Way to make a guy feel wanted.”
a hole in the head,” Dean responded without thinking.
Then, “I just wish –” He shook his
head, shrugging a little hopelessly. “You know
Pastor Jim was right,” he continued. “I
guess even at Christmas we don’t always get what
little bell over the front door tinkled insistently
to signal another customer, and the reindeer-antlered
waitress made a move toward the newcomer.
smile broadened. “Never say never, big brother,”
he said, nodding to someone over Dean’s head.
looked up, puzzled for a second, before glancing back
over his shoulder, face suddenly lighting up in a way
that made him look all of four years old.
boys,” John Winchester smiled broadly as he approached
their table, hands in the pockets of his leather coat,
a sprinkling of snow glittering in his hair and on his
beard. “Hope you didn’t start without me.
I hear they serve Reindeer Ravioli here.”
just grinned up at him wordlessly, and a small smile
of satisfaction crept across Sam’s face.
you do get what you want for Christmas,” he said
softly. “Merry Christmas, Dean.”