: To Have and To Hold (1/2)Author
: R (for language)Words
: Approximately 13,000Author Notes
: My thanks to m. for audiencing the story, and to b., d. and d. for betaing it.Prompts used
: Dean with a power and domesticity, Winchester style.To Have And To Hold
"Hey, sweetie, would you hand me Sammy's bottle? The hungry little monster's about to awaken and if we don't appease him quickly he's going to be making his wrath known in fairly short order."
Dean looked up from his circus coloring book, then down the length of the coffee table. Carefully placing his jumbo green crayon in the crease of the book, he wiggled his fingers toward the bottle, but didn't make any other movement.
Mary Winchester's eyes widened as the clear plastic baby bottle moved in short jerks and stops across the coffee table and into the hands of her eldest son. With a proud smile, he scrambled to his feet and handed it to her.
"Thank you, baby." Mary's voice was barely audible as she attempted to speak past the lump in her throat.
She had prayed so hard, and after four years she had been so sure, but now… Cutting off that train of thought, she accepted the bottle and gently nudged the rubber nipple into the mouth of her one-month old son, effectively silencing his growing mewls.
Dean flopped back onto the floor, picked up a broken red crayon and went back to carefully coloring a tent in his book.
Mary watched her youngest suck on his bottle for several moments while she tried to calm her roiling thoughts. When she thought she might be able to speak again, she focused her attention back on her eldest.
Bright green eyes found hers.
She pointed to the other end of the table again. "Can you hand me that magazine?"
He nodded happily, then pushed himself back to his feet and ran to the end of the table. Once he picked up the magazine, he quickly brought it back to her. The smile on his face was so infectious she couldn't help but return it.
"Here, Mama," he said proudly.
But instead of accepting it, she shook her head and made her smile bigger, even though she wasn't feeling the joviality she was projecting.
"Can you do me another favor?"
Dean nodded eagerly.
"Can you put the magazine back where you found it?"
His eyebrows crinkled, but he obediently ran back to the end of the table and dropped it, completely ignoring the fact that he left it balanced precariously on the edge.
"Okay, now come back here."
He ran to her side and lifted his face toward hers, silently demanding a kiss for his compliance. She leaned over the arm of her chair and brushed her lips over his rosy cheek. Once rewarded, she watched as his attention drifted back to his drawings as if nothing extraordinary had just happened.
Shifting Sam so that he was positioned securely on the armrest on the opposite side of the chair, Mary balanced the bottle so he could keep eating, then reached out and took Dean's hand.
He looked back at her, his gaze one of curious affection.
"Can you bring me the magazine again?"
Dean grinned goofily at her, silently letting her know that her game was pretty silly, but he'd play anyway.
He started forward, but she tightened her grip, not enough to hurt him, but enough to let him know he wasn't supposed to move. Frowning, he tried to step forward again, but she continued to hold him back.
"No, sweetie. Get it like you did with Sammy's bottle."
Confusion fluttered over his face and she lost herself for a moment watching his long eyelashes play over his freckled cheeks. But as quickly as the bewilderment came, it disappeared. Raising his free hand toward the magazine, his face scrunched in concentration until the magazine slid across the table like a hockey puck over ice. When it was within his grasp, he clutched its slick pages and handed it to her, then once again presented his cheek for his reward.
She chuckled softly, then bussed a kiss on the side of his face, making him giggle.
"Hey, Dean?" She tapped his nose playfully, making sure his attention didn't drift.
"How did you do that?"
"Get the magazine."
His brows crinkled again and he shrugged. "Dunno."
"Did you think it?"
"In your head. Did you say, ‘come here
Dean smiled and nodded. His eyes drifted down to his coloring book.
His gaze lifted to meet hers again.
"Promise me something."
"Promise me that you'll only think ‘come here' to things in the house."
He shrugged. "Okay."
"And only when I'm around."
"How about with Daddy?"
"No. Just me."
"How about Sammy?"
Mary thought for a moment. "Okay. After all, you're a big brother and it's your job to look after Sammy."
"Am I the best big brother?"
"Yes. You are. You're the best big brother in the whole wide world."
His toothy grin told her how much he liked that answer.
With practice, there was no limit to what Dean might accomplish, but she knew she'd have to be careful with the way she approached John with the subject. He would be disbelieving at first; maybe even a little scared, but she truly believed that ultimately his love for her and for his sons would win out. She looked at her son and tried to convey her seriousness, without scaring him. "But you need to remember what I told you."
"Not with Daddy?"
"Not with Daddy. Not yet, at least. Okay?"
He rolled his head back and forth on his shoulders like he thought she was being silly again, but finally nodded. "Okay, Mama."
"Good boy, Dean. Good boy."
While Dean didn't know a lot about the world in general, he was pretty sure he had a firm grasp on a few truths. For instance, he knew the fire had somehow changed everything in his life and that nothing would ever be the same again. He knew that while there were a lot of presents under the crooked plastic tree in the corner that he never felt less like celebrating Christmas than he did right at that moment. In fact, he was pretty sure he never really wanted to celebrate it again. He also knew that his mommy had lied about there being angels who watched over his family while they slept.
He still wasn't sure why everyone was so convinced his mommy wasn't coming back, but knew better than to ask his daddy again. Because while he never heard anyone specifically say so, he was pretty sure there was a rule about how daddies weren't supposed to cry and if they did really, really bad things would happen.
Dean remembered his mommy taking him to a park that had rides just for little guys like him. His favorite had been the bumper cars. He remembered laughing as his car lurched uncontrollably around the rink. But now that everything in his life seemed to be careening out of control, he wasn't sure he could ever enjoy bumper cars again either.
He and Daddy and Sammy had been staying with Uncle Mike and Aunt Katie. Even though Katie tried her best to help, she couldn't seem to make Sammy stop crying. Dean wanted to tell her that he just wanted their mommy, but couldn't seem to make himself say the words, which scared him. He wondered if he was broken like the jack-in-the-box that wouldn't pop up after the music stopped because Sammy had thrown it. Now it popped up at odd times, almost exploding from its little box. Dean wondered if someday maybe he would just explode too.
His daddy tried to get him to talk for a while, but then one night before he put Dean to bed, he told him not to worry, that people grieved in their own way and that when he wanted to talk again, he would. Dean wasn't sure what grieved meant, but it still made him feel better that Daddy wasn't angry.
Of course, Daddy wasn't happy either. It seemed like he was either mad or sad most of the time. Sometimes he looked empty, like all of his feelings had disappeared, and that frightened Dean most of all.
His daddy had taken to mumbling to himself. Dean tried to listen, but his daddy kept muttering words like impossible and unnatural. Dean didn't know what those words meant and couldn't piece together what his father was trying to say.
Two days ago, Daddy had gotten him and Sammy out of bed and left first thing in the morning. They didn't even get to say good-bye to Uncle Mike or Aunt Katie. Dean thought maybe they were going home, but they didn't.
Instead, they drove for a really long time and when they finally stopped their daddy took them into a room that was nothing more than two lumpy beds, a beat up old dresser and a television that only got one channel. The carpet was really dirty. Dean knew his mommy would never let Sammy crawl on it, although he knew he didn't really need to worry about Sammy crawling anywhere at the moment as he was teething and doing nothing but crying all the time.
The only time Sammy was quiet was when he was rocking in a mechanical swinging chair like the one his mommy used to call a godsend.
Although he was supposed to be asleep, Dean couldn't get comfortable in the huge bed with the stiff pillows that smelled funny. He watched his father wind the crank that would set Sammy in motion. His father would then take a giant swallow out of his glass and stare at the wall, occasionally mumbling to himself. Eventually, the swing would rock to a stop and Sammy would begin to stir. As soon as Sammy whimpered, his father would wind the swing and start the process again.
Dean remembered his mommy said he wasn't supposed to think things around his daddy, but she had also told him he was supposed to watch after Sammy. Even daddy had told him he was supposed to take care of Sammy.
Worrying his bottom lip, Dean waited until the swing began to slow, then gently nudged it with his mind, telling it to keep swinging. His daddy continued to stare at the wall, but without Sammy's fussing, he stopped drinking and eventually fell asleep, lulled by the mechanical clinks of the swing.
When Dean was five and a half, he watched a program about elephants. While he found everything about the giant beasts fascinating, he was especially intrigued by the fact that some villages in Asia would tie their baby elephants to huge stakes so they wouldn't wander off at night. Even though the babies pulled and pulled, they couldn't get away from the stake. Eventually, they'd stopped trying.
Later in life, when the elephants were full grown and capable of pulling huge trees through the jungle, their handlers tied them to the same stakes they had been tied to as children so they wouldn't wander away while everyone was sleeping. Even though the elephants could easily pull the stakes out of the ground, they didn't, because they truly believed they couldn't…because as children they had tried and failed.
Sammy was driving both Dean and their dad crazy by crawling everywhere and getting into things he shouldn't. But after watching the program, Dean had an idea. While Sammy usually did okay in a playpen, their daddy said it was too much of a hassle to carry something that big around in the car, so he'd put Sammy on a big fluffy blanket instead. Dean's job was to make sure he didn't get into trouble while their dad studied his books.
Dean made sure all of Sammy's favorite toys were on his blanket, then set his brother in the center of it. Whenever, Sammy tried to move off the blanket, Dean would gently put up an invisible wall to impede Sammy's progress.
At first, Sammy looked affronted, wondering who was holding him back. But when he saw Dean sitting in the opposite corner of the blanket and their father at the table, he looked surprised. No one was holding him against his will, yet he couldn't move forward. He fussed a little, but Dean successfully distracted him with a toy.
It only took a week, but after that Sam basically stopped trying to get off the blanket on his own. He'd forget every once in a while, but Dean was always ready for him.
Their dad couldn't get over how well behaved Sam was and told Dean he was doing a good job with his brother. Dean glowed in the warmth of those words for a long time. Despite everything, he was still the best big brother in the world.
And if, in future years, Sam's eyes would grow huge at the mere thought of moving a leg off a picnic blanket, Dean couldn't be blamed for snickering. Really.
Balancing the piping hot casserole dish between his gloved hands, Melvin Kline tried to keep the shopping bags dangling from his elbow from hitting the porch rails as he gingerly climbed the ice covered stairs to his rental. Well, not that it could ever be considered a rental in its current state of disrepair.
Sue Ellen had managed to make him feel like pond scum for allowing John Winchester and his boys to live in such a roach-infested clap trap. Truth be told, he wished he could offer something better to his guests, but the only other thing he owned other than their own tiny house was this even tinier one bedroom place. Melvin had bought the property thinking he'd fix it up and supplement their income a bit, but that had been before his heart attack.
Melvin had tried to give John some money to compensate him after he'd been injured getting rid of the cursed vase Sue Ellen had bought at a garage sale. John had refused, somehow guessing that things were financially tight for him and Sue Ellen.
While he couldn't pay John's medical bills, he could let them stay free-of-charge in the rental. He had apologized profusely for its state of disrepair, but John had simply smiled and thanked him for his kindness.
At least the bed and couch were in good repair. John should be able to recover with some modicum of comfort.
Melvin pushed the doorbell and winced when he heard the pleasant chime short out into a mashed groan.
"Dean." Melvin heard John call out and winced again, thinking the place could probably use some more insulation as well.
The door rattled, as if small hands were having trouble turning the ancient sticky knob, before it opened.
"Greetings, young master Winchester."
The small boy turned his head and looked over his shoulder, probably at his father, before receiving some sort of signal that it was okay to let him in. He gave Melvin a tentative smile as opened the door wider.
John waved him in from the couch. "Come on in, Melvin."
Melvin stomped his feet, knocking as much of the snow off his shoes as he could before he stepped inside.
"Afternoon, John. Sue Ellen sent over dinner. I hope your boys like spaghetti."
"Sketti!" Melvin looked over to find a tiny little boy clapping his hands from the middle of a plush blanket situated right smack in front of the wall heater.
Melvin chuckled. "I'll take that as a yes."
"You don't have--"
"Nonsense. It's the very least we can do."
Melvin moved into the front room as Dean shut the door behind him. He gently placed the casserole dish on the coffee table, then started pulling out Chinet plates and silverware from the first plastic bag.
"Everything's still pretty hot considering the weather." Melvin pulled out a loaf of French bread and a container of shredded cheese from the second bag. He watched as Dean silently nodded his head toward the kitchen. John answered the boy's silent question with his own nod and the boy scrambled into the kitchen.
A second later, Dean was carrying a high chair that was taller than he was into the front room.
"Sketti! Sketti! Sketti!" While the little one, Sammy, if Melvin remembered correctly, bounced excitedly from the edge of the blanket, he remained where he was, sensibly staying out of his brother's way.
Once Dean had the chair where he wanted it, he removed the tray with an expertise that comes only from repeating a task over and over. Then without waiting for any other instructions, he walked to the blanket and picked his brother up, smiling as Sammy wrapped his legs around his middle like a baby monkey clinging to its mama.
Melvin's eyes widened as Dean not only carried his brother to the chair, but lifted him into the seat, making sure to strap his brother in before putting the tray back in place.
"Winchesters certainly come from sturdy stock!" Melvin exclaimed. "What sort of vitamins are you feeding that boy?"
John smiled proudly at his eldest son as he watched him accept a plate from Melvin and take it back to his youngest. "He's a good boy. I'd be lost without him."
Melvin nodded absently. "He's a keeper alright." He continued to watch Dean as he moved back to his father's side and helped him keep his leg straight as he turned to sit upright. "Are you all staying warm enough?"
"Yes." John nodded, then smiled his thanks to his son as he accepted the offered plate.
"I'm sorry about the roaches though."
John blinked at him curiously. "Roaches?"
"Yeah, no matter what I try, nothing seems to work."
"There aren't any roaches in the house, Melvin."
Melvin's eyes widened. "Really?"
"Really. Whatever you tried last time must have worked."
Melvin shook his head and gave John a curious shrug. "All righty then."
"Please tell Sue Ellen thank you."
Taking that as his cue to leave, Melvin moved to the door. "Like I said, it's the least we can do."
Melvin opened the door and shut it quickly behind him. If the roach problem was solved, then maybe he might be able to rent the place out after John recovered. That would be an exceptional twist of fate.
Dean dutifully followed his father into the woods, trying not to worry about the fact that Sammy was probably going to run Pastor Jim ragged. Sam had discovered the word no
and enjoyed bellowing it at the top of his lungs, even if he actually wanted the item being offered to him. Pastor Jim was used to little old ladies who fluttered, tittered and preened for his attention, not two year olds who could disappear the moment one's back was turned.
However, his dad had told him they had an important errand to run and he needed Dean to come with him. He didn't often get his dad's undivided attention and so pushed his guilt at abandoning his brother to the side in favor of an adventure.
Even though it was summer, the forest floor was littered with matted leaves. Dean was fascinated by that fact and found himself taking in his surroundings in quiet awe. He hadn't even noticed that his father had stopped beside a fallen tree until he ran into the back of his legs.
His dad dropped his backpack to the ground, ruffled Dean's hair affectionately, then picked him up and sat him on the log so they were practically eye to eye.
"Wondering what we're doing out here?"
Dean nodded and shrugged his shoulders at the same time. He was curious, but he never liked to question his father.
As if understanding his predicament, John casually leaned against the tree, so that he wasn't looking Dean directly in the eye.
"You and I've been a team now, for what, almost two years?"
"I wouldn't be able to do my research if it wasn't for you doing such an outstanding job watching after Sammy."
Dean dipped his head slightly to hide his blush.
John wiped a hand over his face. "You know I'm trying to find the thing that killed your mother, right?"
"Yes, sir." Dean remembered every word of that conversation, remembered the last vestiges of feeling safe float into the night, even as he remembered his relief when his father told him they were going to keep the information away from Sammy for as long as possible.
"And while I'm doing that, I'm hunting other things, evil things, so they can't hurt any more innocent people."
"Yes, son. Like your mother."
Dean nodded to let his father know they were on the same page.
"Sometimes though, what I hunt is smart."
Hearing that little tidbit of information did not make Dean happy. He frowned. "Smarter than you?"
His father grinned and ruffled his hair again. "Not possible."
Dean giggled, then leaned into his father's hand, seeking comfort, which John indulged for several moments. He then turned so they were facing each other again. "But sometimes…sometimes, son, they hunt back."
All the breath in Dean's lungs left him in one whoosh and he felt cold, even though it was a warm day. "Dad. Sammy."
"I know, son, which is why I think it's time to teach you to hunt, to protect yourself so you can protect Sammy when I'm not there."
The weight of responsibility settled heavily onto Dean's shoulders, but he nodded just the same.
"It's going to be hard work, son. Not only do you need to learn about weapons, but you'll need to train, to grow up to be smart and strong."
"I can do it, dad. You know I can."
"I know you can, bud, which is why we're out here today."
Dean started to frown, but his eyes grew wide as his father took his pistol from his waistband and laid it on Dean's lap. "We'll eventually get around to talking about specs and the best way to clean a weapon, but for today, I just want you to get used to holding one. Go on, touch it. It doesn't have any bullets in it, so you don't have to worry about it going off."
Dean hesitantly touched the barrel.
"A weapon is a tool. Yes, it can be dangerous, but it's not to be feared."
The metal felt cool, almost silky to the touch as he ran his finger over the barrel. Feeling his father's eyes upon him, Dean swallowed hard and picked the pistol up in both hands.
"It's just metal, son. It's basically nothing but a machine. But if you treat it right, if you respect it, it's a machine that can keep you safe."
Dean nodded as he got used to the weight in his hands.
"Do you think you might like to fire it?"
"Today?" Dean looked at his father, awe and surprise, warring over his features.
"I don't expect you to hit anything today, but I'd like for you to get used to the way it feels, to feel the way it kicks, to basically get comfortable with it."To keep Sammy safe
, he thought, I'd face anything
Dean handed the pistol back to his father, careful not to point the barrel at either his dad or himself. His caution earned him a proud nod as his father took the weapon back, making him feel a lot more mature than his six years. John slipped the pistol into the back of his pants. Once it was secure, he picked Dean up by the armpits and set him on the ground beside him, then picked up his backpack. The sound of the pack unzipping seemed unnaturally loud in the quiet woods.
Dean watched in fascination as John pulled several aluminum cans out of his pack and placed them on the tree where he had just been seated. After he lined up six cans, he took Dean's hand and guided him back nearly twenty paces.
Kneeling beside Dean, John put a clip in the handle of the weapon. He wrapped his arms around Dean, so that Dean stood in front of him, then brought Dean's hands up so that they properly wrapped around the hilt of the automatic.
"For starters, I just want you to pull the trigger. Don't worry about aiming it or hitting anything, I just want you to feel what will happen."
Dean swallowed hard, but nodded.
"On three, I want you to gently squeeze the trigger. Okay?"
"Okay," he whispered.
"On three. One. Two. Three."
Dean pulled the trigger, shocked by the way the gun jumped in his hand and grateful that his father's hands were still over his.
"Did you feel the kick?"
He considered his answer for a moment. "No. Not really."
"And why's that?"
"Because I was expecting it."
"Exactly. Fear comes from ignorance. The better prepared you are, the less you'll be scared." His dad dropped his hands so that they were on Dean's hips. "Want to try and fire it yourself?"
Knowing what to expect did make firing the gun a second time easier. It still vibrated in his hands, but he didn't even come close to dropping it.
"That's great, son."
"Okay, now remember the cans on the log?"
"I want you to picture shooting them in your head, like you're telling the bullet where to go."
Dean started at his father's chosen words.
"See what you want to happen. It's okay if you don't hit anything, the point is to get in the right mind frame."
"Think the bullets to the cans?" Dean asked, wanting clarification.
Looking at the first can, Dean lifted the gun with both hands, aimed the pistol and gently squeezed the trigger. A second later the first can flipped into the air and landed on the ground.
"That's my boy!" Pride clearly rang in John's voice. "I can't…I just…Wow. Do you want to try it again?"
Dean nodded, concentrating on the next can as he pulled the trigger again. His father's laughter told him he'd hit the second one as well.
All in all, he hit every can on the log. When they were done, John lifted him onto his shoulder and carried him back to the car.
A small part of Dean conscience worried that he shouldn't have used his thinking power like he had, but he justified it by telling himself that his father had all but told him to do it. And if it meant keeping Sammy safe then he had no regrets.
Jim Murphy held out a condensation wet bottle of beer before his friend had even reached the bottom step of his porch. "Get it?"
John grimly shook his head, even as he accepted the bottle, knowing he was going no further until Jim had had his say.
"The other children?"
"The last one died this morning."
Jim scooted over several inches, making room for his friend. "Think the cycle is finished?"
Twisting off the cap, John took a deep swallow then nodded his head. "I didn't kill it, but I hit it, maybe hurt it. It's going to lie low while it heals. And it knows I'll be looking for signs. I don't think it's going to risk a pick-me-up round anytime in the near future."
A cool breeze blew across the porch, bringing with it the sound of bullfrogs from down by the pond.
Jim closed his eyes, saying a silent prayer for the families of the dead children. "You can't blame yourself."
"Who else am I going to blame?"
"You saw the pattern when no one else did, and you tried. If you're going to blame someone, you might as well blame God for allowing such a creature to exist."
"Who says I don't?"
Minutes ticked by in companionable silence as both men lost themselves in their own thoughts.
"I saw the way you looked at him before you left."
"He hasn't left Sam's side, unless forced, for the last four weeks."
"That's a bit like shutting the barn door after all the cows have escaped, isn't it?"
"He's suffering, John. I mean, truly suffering."
John remained silent.
"He's giving me flashbacks to ‘Nam."
Turning his head, John raised an eyebrow.
"It's his eyes. No one that young should look so haunted."
"I gave him an order."
"He's ten, John." Before John could speak, Jim waved him silent. "He's been following your orders for six years. Faithfully. Without fault. Even you can't claim that sort of obedience to the Corps."
"Before, it was all theory, could be's, training scenarios that had no real place in his world. I guarantee, John, guarantee that he is never going to give you less than one hundred percent ever again."
"Then maybe it wasn't all for naught."
Jim twisted the wedding band on his finger. "Be careful what you wish for."
"Throw the boy a bone."
"Ten children are dead."
"Do not lay that at his feet, John. Do not. There was never any guarantee you could've stopped the cycle before it would've ended naturally."
Silence reigned for several moments after that quiet admission.
"I've been forcing him outside for two hours each day, to give Sam some peace. The poor boy is starting to feel like a bug on a specimen slide."
"I did notice the wood pile as I drove up."
"Don't look at me like that. I refused to give him an axe. He's been bringing pieces in from the woods. I don't think there's a dead branch lying on the ground anywhere in the immediate vicinity."
"The wood looks rather strange."
"Like a tree exploded. Like several of them did, actually."
"We had a hell of a storm a few weeks back. I'm thinking he's been converting one of its victims into my wood pile."
John pushed himself to his feet.
Haunted blue eyes turned toward him. "I left them alone. I underestimated the witch's intelligence and I almost lost Sammy. Dean isn't the only one who made a mistake."
Jim nodded, but didn't follow his friend into the house. The Winchester men needed some time alone, but he was confident they would survive as a family – intact.
"If you were a superhero, who would you be?" Sammy stared at Dean over his comic book, patiently waiting for an answer.
Dean blinked as he looked up from his own comic book and focused on his brother, who was lying supine on their father's neatly made bed. "Wolverine."
"Everyone wants to be Wolverine."
"That's because he's a bad ass."
Sammy shrugged as he considered that answer. "Okay, so who'd be your second choice?"
"Why not Superman?"
"Ah, young Padawan, where have I gone wrong?"
"Hey, Superman's cool."
"I suppose, for an overgrown boy scout."
"What's wrong with that?"
"Nothing, if you don't mind wearing your underwear on the outside…like a dork."
"You're a dork."
"Whatever, Professor X."
"Superman can fly."
"So can half the superheroes."
"Neither Wolverine or Batman can fly."
"Neither one of them have to worry about being shot out of the air either."
"That's actually a good point."
"Oh, bite me."
"You know, dad said I could really bite you the next time you said that."
"Try it and find your teeth under the bed."
Sam rolled his eyes and looked back down at his comic book. "Flying would be cool though."
Dean ignored him.
"Who do you think is hotter: Rogue or Jean Grey?"
"It's not that. It's just that you seem to read more of Jean Grey's stories."
Dean shrugged. "What's not to like about the Phoenix?"
"Hey, Rogue was a bad girl too. Once."
"Yeah, but power-wise, Jean would kick her ass." Dean focused back on his comic.
"True. So what superpower would you want to have?"
Dean looked up again and frowned.
"Out of all of them, which would you choose?" Sam rolled, so that he was sitting on the edge of the bed, leaning ever so slightly toward his brother. "I think I'd like to have telekinesis."
Dean's frown deepened. "Why?"
"Just think of everything you could do, like changing the channel without having to get up."
"That's what remotes are for, genius."
"Yeah, but some of the places we've stayed…"
"You could carry really heavy things without breaking a sweat."
"Because being a pack mule would be so much fun."
"Hey, I'd take it, especially on one of dad's hikes. Although I can never figure out why our packs weigh so much when we're standing still, but they're not so bad when we walk."
Dean shrugged and started to turn away, but Sam's voice grew more excited.
"Doesn't Jean Grey fly using telekinesis?"
"Yeah." Dean sat up and moved to the edge of the bed so that he was facing Sam. Cautiously, he added, "I bet with telekinesis you could direct bullets toward a target so you'd never miss."
"Man, that would be so cool."
"And maybe, you could create a force field around you so that things couldn't get near you."
"Like the things Dad hunts?"
"That would be awesome!"
"Or maybe trip things trying to attack you."
"You could toss things at bad guys like Darth Vader did to Luke."
"Dude, we totally need to draw a comic book about a hunter with telekinesis. That would seriously rock."
Dean permitted himself a small smile.
"It would be the coolest comic book ever!" Sam wiggled with happiness over the mere thought.
Dean laid back down, but his grin didn't die. Yeah, it really would be the coolest thing ever.
Cheap motels were a dime a dozen. Backwater motels without a basement in the middle of Bumfuck, Oklahoma were a crime against humanity.
Dean placed his and Sammy's packed bags in the bathtub and nervously looked around the bathroom. The wind outside their room was howling so loudly that not only did the windows shake, but the walls as well. When he stepped into the bedroom, he found his brother intently watching the weather report.
"We're under a tornado advisory," Sam told him.
Dean nodded; he would have been shocked if they weren't. "Why don't you help me lug this mattress into the bathroom?"
Sam scrambled to his feet. "Will it fit?"
"Yes, even if I have to cut it up." Dean pulled the sheets off the mattress then laid them in the bottom of the tub.
"Is there even going to be room for us in there?" Sam asked skeptically.
"Of course. Believe me, if we have to spend any amount of time in there, you're going to be thankful for the extra padding."
Sam stepped out of his way and followed him back to the bed. "When's dad supposed to be back?"
At eleven, Sam had been constantly trying to prove he was independent, but the quaver in his voice told Dean that, for once, he wished their father was there. He totally knew how the kid felt.
"Today. He could be here any moment." Dean pulled the mattress onto its side, grateful for the first time since they arrived in the rat trap that the beds were only singles instead of fulls or queens. It had sucked when Dad was home because it meant Dean either had to sleep with Sammy, who had a tendency to toss and turn, or on the lumpy couch.
Sam struggled with the other end of the mattress.
"Like this, Sammy." Dean demonstrated the grip he wanted Sam to use, even as he concentrated on lightening Sam's side.
A boom of thunder reverberated around the room, and Sam scurried to comply.
It took some maneuvering, but they got the mattress propped at an angle so they could jump in the tub and pull it on top of them at a moment's notice.
"What about dad?"
"What about him?"
"There won't be enough room in the tub if he gets here and there's a tornado."
"I don't think there'll be a tornado, Sam. All this," Dean waved to their fort in the tub, "is just a precautionary measure. You wouldn't want Dad to come home and find us lounging around watching cartoons, would you?"
Sam's eyes widened when he thought about what the consequences of those actions would be, then furiously shook his head.
"Always be prepared."
"Like the Boy Scouts?"
Dean shrugged. "Or for dad to come home."
Sam tried to smile at his joke, but failed miserably.
A low siren started to wail in the distance and was quickly joined by a second and a third, until there was a chorus screaming about impending danger.
But Dean was already pushing him toward the bathroom. "In the tub, brat."
Sam hastened to comply, but stopped when he noticed his brother wasn't joining him. "Where are you going?"
"I'm just going to check the window."
Sam started to swing a leg back out. "Then I'll…"
"Put that on the floor and I'll break it. Now get in the tub and lie down!"
Sam's already ashen skin managed to look even paler, but he pulled his foot back, then knelt in the tub and attempted to nestle into the blankets at the bottom.
Dean had only taken a few steps into the main room when he saw the hotel sign fly by their window and heard it lodge into a SUV parked a couple doors down from them.
The walls started to shake in earnest as a rumbling, like an approaching train, grew louder. Without a second thought, he spun and ran back to the bathroom. He scrambled into the tub and tugged the mattress until it laid flat over them.
"Dean?" Sammy practically had to shout to be heard over the cacophony of wind as their world went dark.
"I'm not going to let anything happen to you, Sammy," Dean shouted back. Using his power, he pushed his hands and feet into the mattress and wrapped them as best he could around the bed springs. Then concentrating with ever atom of his being, he pictured a bubble around them.
The roof tore off the building with a groan and debris fell against the bubble. Dean grunted, but quickly reinforced the nicks and dents.
Dean felt Sam wrap his arms around his waist and was only dimly aware that his shirt was becoming wet. He didn't like the idea that Sam was so scared he was crying, but there wasn't any way to comfort his brother, knowing he needed to focus all his energy on the bubble.
The tub jarred as the walls tore away. When the tub started to move, Dean plunged a mental spike into the ground, desperately looking for bedrock. The tub rolled onto its side and Dean yelled in agony, even as he widened the spike, casting about for anything to anchor onto.
"Pray for us, Sammy. Pray for us."
Pain, like John hadn't known since seeing Mary on the ceiling, pierced his chest as the Impala crested a hill and he watched the tornado decimate the hotel which had been their home for the past month. He had been flying over the back roads, desperate to reach the hotel first, knowing Dean would have had Sam ready for an immediate evac. All he needed was a friggin' minute. Just sixty seconds.
But he had arrived too late.
The silence when John finally exited the Impala went beyond oppressive. The swallows that usually swooped over the fields beside the motel were conspicuously absent and the cicadas' normal drone had been silenced, as if they'd never existed.
The only sound John could hear was the beating of his own heart in his ears.
"God." John dropped to his knees, but was unable to tear his eyes away from the devastation in front of him. "I've been angry with you for a very long time. But please." A sob broke his prayer. "I…please." Each word was spoken with a huge intake of breath.
"Dean. Wake up. Please don't leave me alone. Please."
John's head snapped up when he heard his youngest son's broken voice, barely more than a whisper.
Pushing himself to his feet, John stumbled forward. "Sammy?" he bellowed. "Sam!"
"Samuel Winchester, you answer me right this moment!" John stopped and cocked his head for a response.
"Daddy? Daddy help me. I can't get Dean to wake up. Dad!"
In the debris to his left, John saw a torn, ratty mattress sitting at an odd angle. Was it even poss-
"Sam!" He ran to the mattress and started to lift it from the filthy porcelain bathtub it was hiding, but Sam started shouting.
"No, Dad! Wait!"
John stopped and lowered the mattress, even though all he wanted to do was to flip it off. "What's wrong, Sam?"
"Dean. He's…he's stuck…in the mattress."
John frowned at Sam's turn of phrase, unable to picture what his son was saying. "Hold on," he instructed.
Kneeling beside the tub, he gently lifted up one side of the mattress.
"Shh! Sam, I know." John peered into the crack he had created. He could see his youngest, plastered like a baby koala bear around his brother's side. Everything above Dean's elbows appeared to be inside the mattress, as if the boy had held it on top of the tub with brute strength alone. The strategy made sense if there were walls around them, but there was absolutely nothing to keep them from being sucked out of the tub. John briefly wondered if they had somehow created a suction, but shook his head knowing that would have created a vacuum, which would probably mean a lack of air or…
"Is he dead?" Sammy's whispered question broke through John's speculation.
Reaching forward, he rested his finger tips along Dean's neck, and almost wept in relief when he felt a strong heartbeat.
"He saved me, Dad. He saved me."
John closed his eyes and released a breath that felt like it was being released from his toes. For once, he wasn't going to question a miracle. His boys were alive and that was all that mattered.
Now all he had to do was figure out how to extricate his son from his bed, which wasn't an easy task even under normal circumstances.Part Two