Here's a little Weechester chapter to start the week off.
Chapter 19: Family
Dean was late picking him up.
Almost fifteen minutes late. As soon as he saw his brother, trudging slowly up the sidewalk, Sam hopped off the bench he'd been sitting on since school released and ran to meet his brother. Halfway there he had to stop and pick up a bunch of markers and scattered school work that had been jostled out of his unzipped backpack. He shoved everything back inside, looking up with a frown when Dean didn't say anything or offer to help.
He didn't even stop walking, actually. Sam yanked on the zipper until his backpack was mostly closed, then wrapped his arms around it, clutching it to his chest, and rushed to catch up with his brother.
"Dean?" Sam asked once he was elbow to elbow with his brother. "Dean?"
"What?" He sounded mad and didn't look at Sam; just kept walking.
"Uh…" Sam's voice trailed off. He didn't know what to say. He hugged his backpack tighter and tried to figure out what was wrong with his brother. "Why are you walking so fast?"
"I'm not," Dean snapped, not slowing down at all. "You're just too little to keep up."
It was true, sure, but it hurt as bad as if Dean had hit him. Sam stopped trying to keep up with his brother. With his very full backpack, it was difficult to keep up with his brother on a normal day, but Dean seemed to be in a big hurry. Usually on their walk home, Dean would tell him all about how cool it was to be in fifth grade. He'd talk about his classes and the sports they played in gym class and then he'd ask what Sam had learned in his classes. Usually they talked all the way home. Usually, on Fridays, Dean would take Sam's backpack because it was extra full with books and homework for the weekend.
Today was Friday and his backpack was really heavy but Dean wasn't taking it from him and he wasn't talking to him and he was walking really fast.
Sometimes they stopped at the park to play for awhile before going back to the apartment. Today, Dean walked right past the park without even looking at it. Sam stared longingly at the swings, then tripped over a crack in the sidewalk. He almost fell down, but caught himself at the last minute. He lost his grip on his backpack, though, and it hit the ground, spilling markers all over the sidewalk again. He leaned down and started picking stuff up.
Shoving everything into his backpack and making sure the zipper was all the way closed this time, Sam scrubbed his hand over his face, trying to get rid of the threatening tears before they fell.
He was trying to get his backpack on when Dean turned around. His face was all tight and red and he looked mean. It was the way he looked when someone was being mean to a littler kid, not the way he usually looked at his brother. But he walked back over to Sam and held out his hand.
"Give it here."
Sam held out the backpack. Dean took it without another word and started walking again. It was all very confusing and he had to rub his eyes again because Dean was really mad and if he cried, Dean would only get madder. Dean was too grown up to cry and he'd just call Sam a baby if he started.
Dean might be older, but Sam was seven and a half — well he'd be seven and a half in two more months. He was almost seven and a half and he wasn't a baby anymore and he wasn't going to cry.
So he huffed and puffed and ran as fast as he could to catch up to his brother. He couldn't think of anything he'd done that might have made Dean mad. Other than walking too slow and dropping his backpack. Maybe something had happened at school. That made sense and he felt a little better. Maybe it wasn't his fault at all.
If it wasn't his fault, then he needed to figure out whose fault it was and what they'd done to make Dean so upset.
With renewed purpose, Sam managed to catch up to his brother. Dean didn't look at him, didn't say anything. Just kept walking.
"Dean?" Sam asked, not sure what he could say to make things better without making them worse.
"Sam, just be quiet, will you?" Dean said, glaring at him.
Dean shook his head, stomping through the puddles left over from the rainstorm earlier.
Sometimes they would jump in the puddles for the fun of it, but Dean wasn't having any fun and neither was Sam.
Watching his brother, Sam tried to figure out a different way to ask his brother what was wrong. If Dean wouldn't even talk to him, it was going to be pretty hard to find out why he was so mad. But he didn't know how to figure it out or how to help.
A few silent minutes later, they reached the apartment building. Dean opened the door and walked into the lobby, not bothering to hold the door. Sam rushed toward it as it closed. He didn't have a key; just Dad and Dean. Getting stuck outside the building was scary and he just barely caught the door in time. Dean was already standing in front of the elevator, arms crossed over his chest as he stared at the numbers above the elevator.
Sam squeaked through the door and raced across the lobby. He didn't want to take a chance on being left out of the elevator. The apartment building was old and dirty and there were a lot of scary people who lived in it. Getting lost on the wrong floor and wandering up and down hallways was something he had nightmares about. Dean had promised he'd never let him get lost, but tonight Sam wasn't sure if Dean remembered his promise.
They got on the elevator together and he took a deep breath of relief that he hadn't been left in the lobby. He wanted to try to talk to his brother, but Dean was still standing with his arms crossed over his chest so Sam didn't say anything. It was always scary when Dad got angry and shouted. This was kind of scary now, too.
The elevator doors opened and Dean hurried down the hallway to their apartment. Dad wouldn't be home until late. Later than their bedtime and sometimes on Friday nights, Dean would let him stay up late and watch a movie. Dean always liked watching movies. Maybe that was a good thing to talk about.
Dean unlocked the door to their apartment and walked inside without looking back. Sam hurried through the door and closed it as fast as he could. He locked it fast, too. Even with the locks, it never felt really safe.
Pulling off his coat, Sam watched Dean get a can of Coke and a leftover sandwich out of the refrigerator.
"Can we watch a movie?" Sam asked, hoping Dean was in a better mood now that he was home and had a Coke.
"No." Dean walked past him.
"I said no. Do your homework or something. Leave me alone."
Dean walked to the bedroom they shared and slammed the door hard.
Sam stared at the closed door and knew he shouldn't knock on the door. Knew he'd just get in trouble. Get yelled at again. So he turned away and went to his backpack. He would just do his homework and figure out what was wrong with his brother later.
But he didn't want to do homework. Didn't even want to watch a movie. Dean had never slammed a door on him before. Sam left his homework on the floor next to his backpack and flopped down on his stomach on the couch, putting his head down against his arms.
He didn't mean to start crying, but he started crying anyway.
Dean could hear his brother crying.
He grabbed his Walkman and put on his headphones and turned the music up loud so he wouldn't have to hear it. Sitting on his bed, he grabbed his newest comic book and started to read while he ate his sandwich.
He barely tasted the sandwich and couldn't concentrate on the words in the comic book.
All he could think about was what had happened at school and the fact he'd made his little brother cry.
It was Friday night and usually Friday nights were the best nights of the week. Dad worked late so it was always just him and Sam. They'd play at the park before it got too dark. Then they'd make something for supper and watch whatever movie was on while they ate and ignored their homework. They always stayed up past their bedtime and he usually wound up having to carry his sound asleep brother to bed.
Friday night was always the best night of the week.
Except tonight was Friday night and everything was ruined.
He threw the comic book across the room. It hit the closet door with a thwap and then fell to the floor. After finishing his sandwich and the can of Coke, he went and retrieved his comic book and started reading again because what else was he going to do? He was still too angry to leave the room. He felt bad enough about how he'd yelled at Sam. He didn't need to yell at him any more.
Pausing the music, he pulled one headphone from his ear and listened for a few seconds. Sure enough, Sam was still crying. Dean scowled and turned the music on again. He hated himself for it, but at the same time he was tired of always having to deal with his whiny little brother. He just wanted to be alone and not have to take care of anyone but himself.
What he really wanted was to go back in time and never have this day happen.
He ground his knuckles into his eyes when they started to prickle like he might start crying at any moment. It was not happening. Sam was the baby. He could cry about baby stuff. But Dean was eleven and he didn't cry anymore.
Even so, he had to sniff a little when his nose got all congested; probably because the apartment was gross and moldy. Or maybe he was coming down with a cold. Whatever it was, it wasn't because he was crying. He shoved the comic book aside again and punched his pillow. And then he punched it some more because it felt good. He got on his knees on the bed and pounded and pounded on the pillow.
His headphones fell off when he really got into it. He threw the Walkman across the room. It cracked against the dresser and a bolt of pain ran through his heart at the thought he might have just broken his most precious possession. Tears burned his eyes and he refused to look over his shoulder and see what kind of damage he'd done.
Instead, he pounded his fist on the mattress, biting his lip to try to hold back the angry shout that wanted to break through. His nose was getting stuffed up and hot tears were running down his cheeks despite his attempt to keep from crying. Pounding on the mattress didn't really help any more than punching the pillow did.
He grabbed the pillow again and pressed it against his face as he screamed into the fluff. Still on his knees, he hunched over the pillow, squeezing it with all his strength and screaming as loud as he could. He only stopped when he couldn't breathe.
Collapsing sideways on the bed, he hugged the pillow to his chest and struggled to breathe with a stuffed up, runny nose. It wasn't easy especially since he was still crying. His throat hurt and so did his chest but he couldn't stop.
He wanted his mom.
Just thinking about her made everything hurt even worse and he couldn't stop crying.
He missed her so much. Dad didn't like talking about her and Sammy had kind of stopped asking about her. Maybe Dean was the only one who missed her. Burying his face in the pillow again, he tried to remember what her voice had sounded like. They had some pictures, but even looking at them wasn't enough. Sometimes he almost forgot how she looked when she had smiled.
"Mom," he whispered hoarsely into the pillow.
He didn't know why he was saying anything. Wasn't like she could hear him. Wasn't like she could come hug him and tell him that she loved him and that she'd take care of him and make him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She was gone and she was never coming back and he didn't understand why she'd had to die.
He cried for a long time, clinging to the pillow and pretending he still remembered what it had felt like when his mom had wrapped him up in her arms and held him close. It had been a long time since Dad had even given him a hug. It might have been on his birthday, but Dean couldn't remember for sure.
He missed his dad almost as much as he missed his mom.
Dean was miserably hiccuping and wiping his snotty nose on the pillow when the bed shifted. Sam called his name quietly, but Dean didn't answer. The anger that stemmed from his brother invading his privacy and catching him crying died a quick death when Sam settled next to him on the bed and wrapped an arm around his chest.
For a moment, he kept squeezing the pillow and tried to ignore the sound of his little brother's quiet sobs. Sam had his face pressed up against Dean's back and his hands were holding tight to Dean's shirt. Dean pressed his face against the pillow again, hot tears still flowing for the unfairness of knowing he would never get to see his mom again.
And then he pushed the pillow away and rolled over to face his brother. He wrapped both arms around him, pulling him closer. Sam grabbed his shirt again and started smearing his own snot and tears against Dean's chest as he cried like his heart was all broken in pieces.
Dean needed to stop crying. Needed to get Sam to stop crying. Needed to apologize and make things better, but all he could do was bury his face in his brother's hair and hold on until they both cried themselves out. His heart felt like it was all broken in pieces, too.
It took a few minutes, but they finally calmed down enough to catch their breaths. They didn't let go of each other, though. It felt really good to have someone to hold onto. Dean shifted, resting his chin on top of Sam's head and blinking hard to clear his fuzzy eyes.
"I'm sorry, Sammy," he whispered after a few more minutes passed silently. "I was a real jerk. School sucked today, but I shouldn't have yelled at you."
Sam shook his head and said, "It's ok."
"No, it's not."
"I just wanted to help." Sam shrugged. He released one hand's iron grip on Dean's shirt in order to wipe at his nose. "You were crying and you never cry. I was scared. I didn't know what to do."
"I didn't know what to do either."
"What happened?" Sam asked, grabbing his shirt again.
Dean took a shaky breath, staring at the wall. "I don't want to talk about it."
Sam was quiet for a long time, then said, "You always listen when I have a bad day."
"Yeah. 'Cuz I'm your big brother." Dean smiled a bit.
"Well, I'm your little brother." Sam pulled back enough that they could look at each other. His eyes were red and puffy and so earnest as he said, "You can talk to me, too."
Fighting to keep a smile on his face, Dean said, "I know."
"So," Sam said, pushing himself up and sitting cross-legged on the bed. He scrubbed both his hands over his face, smearing away tears. "What happened?"
"You were crying," Sam said, elbows on his knees and his chin resting in his hands. His face squished up like he might start crying again. "You said only babies like me cry. Something bad happened to you to make you cry."
"You're not a baby." Dean sat up across from Sam, crossing his legs and mirroring his brother's pose.
"You always say that I am."
"Yeah, well I shouldn't."
"Did someone punch you?"
"What?" Dean shook his head "No."
"Did someone kick you?"
"Then what happened?"
Dean sighed. His brother was nothing if not persistent. There was no way Sam was going to let this go. The problem was that Dean was really afraid if he actually started talking about what happened, he would start crying again.
"It's ok, Dean," Sam said after a moment of silence. He looked down at the bedspread and a few fat tears ran down his flushed cheeks. "You don't have to tell me anything."
"It's stupid, ok?"
"You never tell me it's stupid." Sam looked up at him again, eyes wide.
It was true, of course. He never made fun of Sam when he was upset; no matter how trivial the problems of a seven year old seemed to Dean. He never made fun of his brother when it was important. When it really mattered.
"I just had a really bad day." Dean rubbed his eyes. "I didn't pass this big quiz. I got into a fight after lunch and got detention."
"That's why you were late to pick me up?"
Dean nodded. "I'm sorry."
"It's ok." Sam managed a small smile. "Was it the fight? That made you cry?"
"No. It was…it was something else." Dean's stomach flip flopped and he wanted to stop talking, but he also wanted to have someone understand. Someone he knew would understand. "Tomorrow's the picnic. The family picnic."
Sam nodded. "You said you were going to ask Dad about it."
"Yeah, well I didn't. Because it's stupid and he doesn't have time, anyway."
That ache deep in his soul, the part that missed his mother more than he could ever say, started aching again. If Mom was still alive, they'd all go to the picnic and be a normal family. Mom would bring cookies and talk to the other moms while Dad grilled burgers with the rest of the dads. He and Sammy would get to be like all the other kids and play games and not be the only kids who didn't really have a home and didn't have a mom and always stood out no matter where they went.
"We could go," Sam said. "Just you and me."
Dean snorted and shook his head. "That would be weird. We're already weird."
"It's a family picnic, though," Sam wasn't giving up yet. "We're a family. Right?"
"Yeah." Dean couldn't argue about that.
Sam's downtrodden expression brightened.
"So can we go?"
Dean shook his head. "Do you really want to go hang out at a stupid old picnic with everybody from school?"
"No. Can we hang out, instead?"
"Yeah." Dean smiled and mussed his brother's hair. "You want some pizza for supper?"
Sam nodded, but asked, "How? We don't have any pizza."
"But I've got thirty whole dollars saved up! We can order a pizza and get some cinnamon bread sticks."
"You were saving that for something really special."
"Yeah, well, I'm hungry and cinnamon bread sticks are really special," Dean said, bouncing off the bed. "Come on."
He was tired of being sad and crying was just stupid and if he was eating pizza and watching a movie, he wouldn't be thinking about how much he missed his mom. Sam followed him to the living room. Dean went for the phone and told Sam to find something to watch.
Half an hour later, they were settled on the couch with pizza, breadsticks, and their last can of Coke split between them. Dean had been hoping for an action movie with lots of explosions, but Sam had found a channel playing a marathon of My Favorite Martian so that was what they were watching. Even if it wasn't quite what he'd wanted to watch, he was laughing right along with his brother.
It felt good.
It also helped make the ache in his soul go away. At least for awhile. Sometimes he'd go for a couple weeks before he'd start to hurt inside, other times every single day there was something that made him think of his mom.
After a few episodes, he'd almost forgotten about his awful day and he was trying to figure out how much longer Sam would manage to stay awake. He'd been getting quieter and quieter and was a lot less fidgety which meant he was really tired.
Dean kind of didn't want the evening to end, but he also didn't want Dad to chew him out for keeping his brother up any later than he already had. It would be easier if he hustled Sam to bed before he fell asleep and Dean wound up having to carry him to bed.
Turning to Sam, he was about to suggest that they go to bed when Sam suddenly moved closer and gave him a hug. Dean was surprised, but wrapped his arms around his brother, too.
"What're you doing?" Dean asked, as Sam's arms tightened around his waist.
"Giving you a hug."
"Well, yeah. I know that, moron."
Dean laughed, tempted to start a wrestling match. But Sam was holding onto him really tight like maybe he needed the hug, too. So he just hugged him back.
"We'll always be a family, right? You and me?" Sam asked, his face pressed against Dean's chest. "No matter what?"
"No matter what, Sammy," Dean repeated, his throat tight.
Arms still wrapped around Dean, Sam settled more comfortably at his side, attention returning to the tv.
Dean raised an eyebrow as Sam yawned and tried to keep his eyes open. He should drag him to bed before it was too late. But Dean didn't move. He just turned the volume down and let his little brother fall asleep right there next to him.
Maybe he didn't have a mom and maybe his dad was never around, but he had a little brother and they were a family. Even if it was just the two of them, they were a family and that was what really mattered.
As long as he had Sam, he didn't need anything else.
Thanks for reading!