Title: Thorn Inside Ch 4
Summary: Dean learns just how much little Sammy has changed over the years.
A/N: As always, mondo thanks to mmarinov for an amazing beta. I realize a lot of you have a problem with the fact that Sam would simply cut Dean out of his life. I'm going to ask that you suspend your disbelief, and keep in mind that I started writing this back between Hookman and Bugs. In light of the way the show's going, I'm inclined to belief with everyone. So let's just pretend it's a little AU, as well as futurefic. Haha. Enjoy, and please let me know what you think!
The side panel of the dark truck is hot against Dean’s back, but he doesn’t move. Couldn’t move even if he possessed the motivation. Maybe he’s a little worse off than he admitted to Sam, and to himself, no less. The knee of his good leg has begun to tremble, tiring quickly from having to support the weight of his entire body.
He thinks he might have trouble maneuvering himself up the steps of Sam’s porch, but judging by the way the conversation between him and his wife seems to be going that might be a moot point. His hands tighten reflexively around the handles of his crutches, and he wonders how far he could get before Sam noticed he was gone.
But then that turns out to be the moot point, because he hears footsteps move down the wooden stairs, and onto the gravel of the driveway. Before he can straighten up, before he can wipe the look of pure misery off his face, she appears in front of him. She’s beautiful in a way that after seeing Jessica, Dean wouldn’t have expected from his kid brother. Long, dark brown hair hanging around her face in loose curls, she has full lips, a pointed nose, and large chocolate brown eyes. She’s wearing a pair of jeans and an old t-shirt with the Harvard logo stamped on the right breast, but he could just as easily imagine her in lingerie, spilled out across a loveseat for the eagerly awaiting cameras. And before he can hate himself for even beginning to think that about his brother’s wife, she’s smiling at him and holding her hand out for him to shake.
“Hi Dean. I’m Kellie. Your sister in law.”
Her voice is soft and sultry, and he can almost hear the i-e at the end of her name. She shakes his hand carefully, mindful of the bandages and painful stitches beneath, and when she continues to look at him without saying anything, he realizes she’s waiting for him to speak.
“Uh, hi. Yeah, it’s good to meet you. I’m, uh, Dean.”
For once, he’s thankful for the painful damage to his face, because even the risk of scarring is made better by the simple fact that the bruising hides his blush. He’s never felt awkward in front of women or girls, even back when he was a kid and after living non-stop with brother and dad, no female influence to speak of. But this woman, despite being one of the most beautiful he’d seen outside a magazine, represents something much more than that. She’s the personification of everything Dean used to fear, everything Sam used to want in place of the life he was born into.
He flounders for something to say, but doesn’t have to follow through because Sam appears just behind his wife and to the right. He looks mildly ashamed, an expression Dean doesn’t think he’s ever seen on his brother. Before he has a chance to think further on it, Sam is slipping past Kellie and laying a gentle hand on Dean’s arm.
“Do you need a hand inside?”
And just like that they’re back on familiar ground. As if he’d done it intentionally, Sam’s hand drops away and he steps back with a smirk, just in time to avoid Dean’s left elbow jab. “Dude, when I have ever needed ‘a hand’?”
Sam looks pensive, tapping a finger against his chin as though deep in thought. “Well, do you want the abbreviated list, or should I go into detail?”
Sam falls back a step when Dean shoves him awkwardly, and watches with a strange tightness in his chest as his brother adjusts his crutches and begins the marathon journey to the front door. Kellie leads the way, walking slowly and speaking over her shoulder.
“We can set you up in the guest room. It’s got it’s own bathroom; I’ll just have to change the bedding. It’s been a little while since we’ve had anyone stay over.”
“Don’t go to any trouble on my account.” Dean hesitates at the bottom of the stairs, wondering if it would be easier to hop up with the rail as his guide rather than use the crutches. “I’ve slept on worse than dusty sheets.” He sets to work on getting his broken body up those steps; so intent on the task he doesn’t notice Sam playing safety net behind him.
Kellie waits patiently by the front door, watching with warmth in her eyes at Sam’s hand ghosting at the small of Dean’s back. She’s far from forgiving her husband for lying so extensively and so purposefully, but in the past two minutes, she’s been introduced to a side of Sam she’s never seen before. From orphan and single child to younger brother in a matter of minutes, she wonders if he’s hidden anything else from her.
Sam has always been protective over their family, sometimes bordering on obsessive and approaching annoying, but seeing his attention focused on a stranger is to put it simply, strange.
“Don’t be silly. It’s no trouble.” Dean’s made it up the steps without trouble, and Kellie opens the front door, stepping inside ahead of him. She hears only the briefest of sounds, nails scratching against the wood floor, before Dean suddenly shouts something about getting down, then his casted arm sideswipes her and sends her tumbling into the wall next to him. Sam is sent similarly out of harms way, and before Kellie can blink, Dean’s yielding a cast in his left hand like a club and reaching for something that seems to be missing in the waistband of his pants.
“Dean!” Sam’s bellow surprises her, in spite of the scene in front of her, and it seems to break through whatever mental haze his brother has fallen into.
Dean blinks owlishly, staring in something akin to wonder at the crutch clenched awkwardly in his hand as if he doesn’t know how it ended up there. His heart is beating fast and furious in his ears, thundering in a panicked reaction to something he is not yet aware of. And then the strange scratching sound appears again, and just like that he’s back in hunter mode, crouching down to lower his center of balance, rather gracelessly with the addition of the full length cast.
“It’s just the dog!” Sam yells again, wrenching the cast from Dean’s hand at the same time that a well-muscled German Shepard comes barreling around the corner towards the trio. Kellie rises to her feet, grimacing and rubbing at the sore spot where her shoulder connected with the wall. She moves forward to intercept the dog before he can knock anyone to the ground. There’s been enough of that going around already.
“Jesus,” Dean mutters, looking in surprise at Sam, then turning around to Kellie. His hazel eyes are wide in astonishment. “I’m sorry, I didn’t…I thought it was something else.”
Sam bends to pick up the other crutch, abandoned on the floor in all the excitement. “A crutch? Fucking hell, Dean! What good is a wooden crutch going to be?”
Although not quite understanding the meaning of the words, Kellie recognizes the emotion behind them. She signals for the dog to sit and he obeys rather reluctantly, tongue lolling out as if in distaste of the command, brown eyes locked on the stranger standing in the foyer. “It’s all right, Sam.” Her shoulder still hurts, but Dean looks so embarrassed, like he’s hoping the floor will open up and swallow him whole. Despite the fact that he caused it all, she can’t help but feel for him. While she doesn’t understand the forceful action, as a mother she more than knows the need to protect. And it’s impossible for her to mistake her brother in law’s actions for anything else. “Just a misunderstanding.”
Sam still looks angry, a little tense around the shoulders, but he sighs anyway. “Yeah, those have a way of happening around him.” He steps around his brother, jerking a thumb over his shoulder towards the sibling in mention.
“I said I was sorry!” Dean adjusts the crutches, and follows Sam onto the wooden floor. “Whadya want me to do? Get down on my knees and beg forgiveness?”
“It would be a good start, yeah!” He speaks the words in his most serious tone, but a smile is tugging at the corners of his lips, and if not for that, the twinkle in his eyes would’ve given him away.
Dean reaches to shove his younger brother, loses his balance and almost falls until Sam reaches out and steadies him with one hand. Dean doesn’t acknowledge the save, Sam doesn’t wait for a thank you, and Kellie watches the exchange with wide eyes and the sense of someone being left out of an inside joke.
“Kitchen’s this way,” Sam says, motioning with one hand over his shoulder. Dean adjusts his crutches and follows, chin dropped to his chest to hide the wide grin on his face.
Inside the stainless steel and black granite kitchen with gleaming appliances and spotless fruits in clear glass bowls, Sam catches the closest chair tucked under the mahogany table and kicks it over to Dean, who is unable to hide his grateful moan when he finally sinks into it.
“This is, uh, a really nice house,” the eldest Winchester says, looking around at the hardwood floors, expensive looking furniture and shiny fixtures as though he actually had some idea as to how much any of it was worth.
Sam pulls a small wooden box out of the cupboard above the refrigerator, holds the kettle up to his ear and shakes it gently. “Yeah, well, the roof doesn’t leak, we don’t get booted out at checkout time, and the neighbours are more than three feet away.”
Dean grins, wide and unassuming and without baggage, so like himself, like before, that Sam feels something inside his chest clench tight and cut off his breath. The expression is at complete odds with the damage to Dean’s face, but it looks at home on his features nonetheless.
“Even so, it’s still a nice house.” The grin remains, and though Sam should’ve expected a comment like that from his brother, it surprises him anyways. The tightness in his chest disappears, and he wears a matching grin when he chucks the wet sponge at Dean’s head. It misses its target, hits the floor with a splat, and Dean laughs.
“I can see your aim hasn’t improved at all.”
Sam shakes his head, sets the kettle in the sink and begins filling it. “Wrong, big brother. After all, the un-aimed arrow can never miss.”
Dean pulls a face, contorting his features in such a way that has to put uncomfortable pressure on the bruises. “Dude, you know I hate it when you get philosophical.”
Kellie appears in the archway leading to the kitchen, complete with massive tan and black coloured dog at her side before the conversation can turn a one-eighty. She lets the dog go and he rushes forward, shoving his snout into Dean’s crotch and sniffing as though it’s his last hour on Earth.
“Spike!” Sam barks from the other side of the kitchen, and Dean can remember a time when it was his name said in that menacing tone. “Back off!” The dog listens obediently in a way Dean never did, backs up a step and sits, tongue lolling out as if there’s no room for it in his mouth.
“Sam, he’s just trying to get to know your brother. He didn’t do anything wrong.” Kellie stands over the dog, her arms crossed in defiance, and Dean can sense a fight coming like the humidity in the air before a thunderstorm.
Sam doesn’t look up as he pours boiling water into a trio of mugs and adds tea bags with a noisy plop. “Dean’s hurt. He doesn’t need a dog’s nose shoving at him, pushing on all his bruises and stitches.” He finally lifts his chin, and his green eyes are pleading. “He needs to take it easy.”
Dean wants to protest, to let it be known that he is not some porcelain doll that’s going to break in half with the chuffing breath of a dog. But he recognizes the emotions on Sam’s face, sees the urge to mother-hen in his eyes, and he’s brought back to a crazed road trip to Nebraska, mud up to their ankles and the debilitating inability to catch his breath.
Apparently Kellie reads the emotion correctly as well, for she grabs the dog by the collar, and speaking softly under her breath, leads him to the back door and the fenced yard beyond.
“Thanks.” Their eyes meet over the potted plant sitting in the middle of the table, and just like that, all is forgiven. Well, maybe not all, but enough so that Kellie feels no conflicting emotions when her lips turn up into an answering smile. Everything else can wait until they are behind closed doors.
Sam carries the three mugs to the table, places one in front of his brother, hands one to his wife, and keeps the last for himself. Dean peers into the mug, sniffing suspiciously and wrinkling his nose in distaste. “Dude? Tea?”
Sam rolls his eyes as he sits down across the table. “It’ll help your muscles relax, and it won’t keep you up until dawn. Just drink it.”
Dean picks the mug up as though it might reach out and bite him. “I don’t have to stick my pinkie in the air, do I?”
Kellie laughs softly, but Sam’s beginning to lose patience with his brother, frustration existing hand in hand with the elation that still lingers after finding him alive and reasonably well.
“Just shut up and drink the tea, okay? For once make this easy on me.”
“Gotta keep you guessing, Sammy.” Dean takes a sip of tea, and it’s only by sheer force of determination that he keeps his lip from curling in disgust. “Wouldn’t want you to get soft, now would I?”
Sam rolls his eyes again, the second time in as many minutes, but it’s a smile he’s hiding behind his mug.
“So, Dean. Sam never mentioned, what is it that you do?” Kellie assumes the eager listener pose, leaning forward on the table, elbows resting on the smooth, shiny surface with her chin in her hand. The pointer finger of her other hand absently traces the swirling patterns on her mug.
Dean shrugs listlessly, doesn’t see the look of poorly disguised worry on his brother’s face. “I’m sort of between things right now. Burning through some savings. Something will come up.” He lifts his chin, catching Sam’s meaningful gaze from across the table. “Something always does.”
“Tell me about it,” she says flippantly, and Dean wants to. He wants to tell stories of werewolves and vampires and demons just so that look of commiseration could be wiped off her face. Intellectually he knows she’s not trying to annoy him, that it’s his frayed nerves and quick temper that are to blame, but the slow burn inside his chest has its own ideas. She has no idea what his life has been like, not even the barest of hints if the clues Dean has been reading all night are anything close to being right.
Sam clears his throat loudly as if aware of Dean’s burgeoning yet disproportionate anger. He glances at the watch on his wrist and says, “It’s ten to three, Kel. Shouldn’t you be heading out?”
Kellie frowns, checks her own watch and quickly rises to her feet. “Yeah, you’re right. I’ll be back in twenty minutes, or so.”
And then she’s gone, moving quickly towards the front hallway and swiping a set of keys off a side table on her way out. Sam waits until the door closes behind her before he rises to his feet.
“I bet you want to get out of those clothes,” he says, grabbing his brother’s half-empty mug and instinctually knowing he’s done with it, dropping it in the sink. “I can show you the guest bedroom while we’re up there.”
He waits patiently with his arms crossed while Dean lurches to his feet, unable to hide the accompanying grimace.
“Dude, I don’t suppose you’re hiding an elevator around here anywhere.”
Sam’s eyebrows rise in barely disguised astonishment. His brother’s attempt at humour is quite possibly the closest he will ever get to admit sickness or injury, and like before, it’s very telling about just how poorly Dean is feeling.
“No, no elevator,” Sam says, slowing his speed and shortening his stride to match Dean’s as they move back towards the front of the house and the stairway leading upstairs. “But if you ask real nice, pretty please with a cherry on top kind of nice, then I’ll consider giving you a piggy back ride.”
Instead of indignation, Dean snorts laughter. “Says you, string bean. Like your scrawny ass could carry me up those stairs.”
Sam makes a show of giving Dean an appraising stare, finishing with a nod and a disapproving frown. “You know, you’re right. You have gained weight. Well, if you can’t make it on your own, I guess I can call one of the neighbours.”
The middle finger tossed over his shoulder at Sam slows Dean’s rhythm down, but he considers the sacrifice worth it. It’s been so long, too long if he’s honest with himself, that they participated in actual, no-holds-barred verbal sparring without some hidden mental landmines to carefully step around. Of course, having been apart for seven years, neither would know if these traps existed but the instinct to return to their natural bantering state is much too strong for such trivialities.
Sam again acts as safety net while Dean lumbers his way up the flight of stairs, internally grateful they’re hardwood and not slippery carpet. Never in his thirty-five years has he been afraid of falling down the stairs and breaking a hip, but his brief and nearly unbearable hospital stay has helped put things into perspective. He wants to avoid that place like it harbours the Ebola virus.
He’s breathing hard when he reaches the second floor, but Sam thankfully doesn’t acknowledge it. He simply leads the way down the carpeted hall, past several closed doors on either side, to the one open at the very end. He pushes the door open for Dean and enters behind him.
The room is decorated with a lean more towards functionality than beauty. The bed is a double, mahogany head and footboards with a plain light green comforter and accompanying flannel sheets. The walls are painted a similar green, though several shades lighter, with matching curtains covering the windows. A door in the far right hand corner presumably leads to the ensuite bathroom, with double doors next to it predictably the closet.
Sam leaves his brother in the doorway, and begins stripping the bed, leaving the comforter folded back but pulling the sheets off all together.
“There’s a stack of clean towels in the bathroom,” Sam explains, motioning over his shoulder to the closed door behind him. “But you know not to get the stitches wet, so you should probably wait to have a shower. Extra toothbrushes and toothpaste are in the medicine cabinet; Kellie likes to keep a supply on hand for anyone dropping by.”
He dumps the pile of dusty sheets near the door, and pulls a fresh set of the same colour out of the room’s matching mahogany dresser. “I picked up everything else, shaving stuff, that deodorant you like, while I was getting your prescriptions so that’s all taken care of. I don’t think you…”
He looks up suddenly from his task, hands frozen in the process of smoothing out the wrinkles. Dean remains in the same spot he settled in when they first entered, an unreadable mask of emotion on his face.
“Dean? You okay?”
The eldest Winchester visibly pulls himself together, and says in a thick voice, “Fine. I was…uh…just thinking.”
Sam’s eyes are questioning, but he doesn’t push the issue any further and for that Dean is grateful. He doesn’t want to explain to Sam how his incredible ability to cover any possible contingency when Dean was injured reminded him too clearly of the last years they spent together.
He clears his throat, swallowing the thickness that bubbled up from his chest, and moves forward to sit on the room’s only armchair -one in an astonishing shade of light green.
Sam finishes with the bed, folds the comforter back into place. “Let me go grab something for you to change into.” He doesn’t wait for a response, simply breezes out of the room with a single mindedness that he often sunk into when Dean was injured.
He returns in a matter of seconds with a pair of worn sweatpants and a hooded sweatshirt draped over one arm.
“These will probably be too long for you,” he says with a snicker, tossing the offending items on the bed. “But you could always roll them up so you don’t trip.”
Dean rolls his eyes. Petty shots about their difference in height is not worth him getting riled up over. Especially when his leg his beginning to ache something fierce, and he feels like he hasn’t slept in two weeks. He grabs the hem of his borrowed pullover, and starts to take it off before pausing mid motion.
“Dude? Some privacy?”
Sam smiles, shakes his head in an embarrassed manner, and slowly backs out of the room. “I’m going to get your prescriptions ready. I’ll be downstairs.”
He leaves the door open behind him; whether on purpose or simply an accident, Dean can’t be sure. Confident in the fact that they are the only ones in the house, and those footsteps clumping down the stairs are indeed his younger brother’s, Dean begins to change.
His injuries make it astonishingly difficult to undress and pull new clothes on. By the time he’s finished, he hears the front door downstairs open and slam closed, and what sounds like a herd of gazelles go barreling into the kitchen.
Dean sighs, smoothes the wrinkles down the front of the borrowed sweatshirt. He doesn’t want to go down those stairs, and not just because he feels like he suddenly aged eighty years in two days. If the childish giggles floating up the stairwell are any indications, then the first floor of this Martha Stewart-esque house harbours exactly what Dean has been running from all these years. The evidence, all clearly labeled and laid out before him, of how whatever Dean had been able to offer his brother was never enough. The life Dean tried to give Sam had never met whatever internal requirements and standards the youngest Winchester had established for himself, so he’d left to do it himself. Intellectually, Dean knows it’s not that simple, that it never is, but intellect never had anything to do with his heart.
His head whips around, bones and cartilage popping as the discarded medical scrubs fall from his hands to the bed. A young boy stands in the doorway, with wild blond hair and hazel eyes that are vaguely familiar. He casts a suspicious glance in Dean’s direction, eyes narrowing in an expression that brings melancholic pangs to Dean’s heart.
“Who’re you?” The kid says, crossing his arms against his chest, and though he can’t be a day older than five, the posturing looks completely natural on him. If Dean ever had any doubt that this kid was Sam’s, the arms crossed in front of his chest and the argumentative hitch to his hip erased it all. The Spiderman shirt with chocolate stains and the worn jeans with grass stains suggest a familial relationship to Dean himself.
“I’m Dean.” He’s never been good at dealing with kids, Sammy the obvious exception to the rule, and now is no different. The kid’s nose wrinkles, he shakes his head and pencil straight blond locks fly about his face.
“No, you’re not. I am.”
And isn’t this an interesting development. With a barely disguised grunt of pain, Dean bends and retrieves the scrubs from the floor. Out of the back pocket, he pulls a worn black leather wallet, the only thing he managed to keep out of sight from the many doctors and nurses he became rather reluctantly acquainted with. Inside is his driver’s licence, the real one, issued in the state of Kansas with his real birthday, real name, everything real except the birth certificate that allowed him to get it. The original had burned in the fire. He holds it out to the kid. “Read that.”
The kid frowns, wrinkles his nose again. “I don’t know how yet.”
Dean is surprised for a minute; his brother had been reading like… a person who reads too much since he was old enough to realize the strange symbols lined up next to each other on pieces of paper bound together actually held some kind of meaning. He’d taken to it like Dean never had, and it surprises him to see that wasn’t passed on to his son. Presuming this is Sam’s son, and not some neighbourhood schmuk with remarkably similar features trying to get in on some Winchester love.
“It says Dean Winchester. See that?” He taps his own face trapped beneath a plastic card pocket. “That’s a picture of my handsome face. Means I’m Dean Winchester. Do you have one of these?”
The kid shakes his head. “No.”
“Well, then. How do I know you’re not lying to me?”
Barely more than a minute with this kid and Dean already has him in tears. Must be some kind of a record, surely to be broken the next time the eldest Winchester is left alone with a child under ten. But this kids mouth and chin are familiar enough, and Dean has never been able to stand seeing Sam upset.
“Relax, kid. I’m just teasing. We can both be Dean Winchester. I’m pretty sure there are more of us out there. You got a middle name?”
The kid’s chest puffs out in pride. “John. Daddy says it’s the name of an American hero. But he was like a secret agent so nobody knows ‘bout him ‘cept us.”
Dean’s heart clenches in his chest, even after all these years, and he turns away for a moment to hide the emotion he knows is written all over his face. Damn Sam. Nasty little trick, taking off like he did and then saddling this kid with years of therapy if he ever learns whom exactly his names refer to. As if he’d gone out of his way to pull on his older brother’s heart strings, years after the fact.
“Why do we have the same name?”
Dean takes a deep breath, tramps the emotion somewhere down where it won’t catch him off guard again. “I don’t know, kid. I bet your father named you after me in some misplaced sense of guilt. But don’t worry about it. I’m a pretty cool guy to be named after.”
“How do you know my daddy?”
“He’s my brother, munchkin.”
Both Deans whirl around at the sudden voice in the doorway, the elder cursing himself at his own inattention. Believing to be safe in his own house, Sam has forgotten the need for stealth and walks like a giraffe wearing army boots. It’s laughably easy to hear him coming, and yet Dean allowed himself to be distracted by this small child. It’s an understandable mistake, but one that could cost someone their life.
Sam stands at the threshold, leaning against the jamb with his arms crossed against his chest, unintentionally mimicking his son’s posture from earlier. The smile on his face is nostalgic, melancholic as his gaze moves between his son and his older brother.
“Your brother?” Little Dean’s tone is incredulous, his eyes wide in surprise. If Big Dean ever doubted his place in Sam’s new family, the kid just cemented his concerns as spot-on. He’d always known his link to Sam’s separate life was tenuous at best; after all, it had been absurdly easy for Sam to cut his brother out of his life at Stanford with only the barest of mentions. But he would never imagine that he’d be wiped out of existence like an ex-girlfriend or a high school buddy gone bad.
By a miracle of repression, he manages to keep the hurt off his face and even goes so far as to smile. “Yup. And you bet your dad perfected the annoying little brother act.”
He doesn’t look at Sam, but he can feel his brother’s concerned gaze on him. No doubt Sam is aware of what just happened, of what Dean has learned simply by observing. He decides to cut the heart-to-heart off at the pass.
“So. Kids, huh? Didn’t exactly see that coming. You got any more?”
Sam smiles softly, shakes his head. His brother makes it sound like they’re nothing more than expensive ornaments, something to be taken out an admired at the opportune time. Of course, Sam knows his sibling better than that. Dean has always had an affinity for kids, whether he liked to believe it or not. As if they somehow sensed the trauma of Dean’s own childhood and what he had to give up, kids generally accepted him without questions or concerns. It made quite a few jobs that much easier.
“Two more. I’ll go get them; I forgot your pills on the counter.”
Dean sighs. “Sam, you don’t have to wait on me. I can get down the stairs, you know.”
“Oh yeah?” Sam snorts sarcastic laughter. “Cause it looks like you might collapse any minute. Look, just sit down on the bed and wait for two minutes, all right? Is that so hard to ask?”
Dean rolls his eyes but doesn’t otherwise respond. There’s really no point in arguing with Sam, not when his brother has made up his mind, and Dean is incapable of convincing him physically. He sits gingerly on the bed, lifting his cast to stretch along the length and leaning against the headboard.
Little Dean watches with big, interested eyes. He rounds the bed at a good clip and jumps on the other side, bouncing once or twice before settling on his knees.
Dean watches him carefully, as though the kid might suddenly sprout a second head and try to devour him whole.
“What happened to you?” Little Dean asks, reaching out with a tentative hand to brush his fingers against the fiberglass cast. “Does it hurt?”
“A telephone pole jumped out in front of me when I was driving.” The kid looks up in surprise, hazel eyes narrowed in suspicion before he recognizes the teasing glint in Dean’s eyes, similar to that of his Dad’s. He laughs lightly, his tiny fingers moving up to ghost over the bandages on Dean’s hands.
“Daddy had to wear one of these once.” He touches the cast on Dean’s left wrist. “He fell off the ladder when he was hanging the Christmas lights. Mommy left me and Lizzie and Em over at Mrs. Parkinson’s while she took Daddy to the hospital. He couldn’t play football with me for a long time cause Mommy said it hurt too much, and it hadda get better.”
Dean opens his mouth to tell the kid his dad always was a little too sensitive, but changes his mind at the last second. “Well, she’s right, buddy. It does hurt.”
Sam reappears in the doorway then. There’s a baby tucked against his left hip, waving around a plush Spongebob in one hand and holding tightly to Sam’s t-shirt in the other. She’s giggling madly at some inside joke the others are not privy to. From behind his brother, Dean can barely make out the form of a little girl, probably no older than three, holding tightly to Sam’s jeans with both hands and hiding behind him with her face pressed against the back of his thigh.
“These are the other two.” Sam shuffles forward, his movement limited by the child attached to him like a limpet. He sits down at the end of the bed, near Dean’s feet, and Kellie follows with a small plastic tray she sits down on the night table.
“This is Emma,” Sam says, motioning to the baby sitting in his lap. “And this shy little munchkin is Lizzie.” He lays a big hand on the middle child’s head, tucking the blond curls out of her face. “Sweetie, this is your Uncle Dean. You don’t have to be afraid of him.”
“She’s always been a little shy,” Kellie says by way of explanation.
But Dean doesn’t hear her. He’s still trying to wrap his head around Uncle Dean. So much has happened in these past seven years that he feels whiplash just trying to keep up with it. The kids are all adorable, if he’s going to be honest, with glimpses of both Kellie and Sam written in all of them. And he swears little Lizzie’s mouth and nose is identical to features he now only remembers from photographs yellowing with age.
He tastes the words in his mind, rolling them over and over again until no angle is overlooked. He decides he likes the sound of it.
Current Music: Safety Dance