Rating: PG - Gen
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Dean remembers what Sam can't.
The landscape of a dentist office was always a strange mixture of quiet and restless.
Sam had always appreciated the unspoken rule of no eye contact when it came to solemnly waiting for your last name to be called. You shifted through some magazines or stared at mediocre framed inspiration but you mostly watched the clock. However, all that silent painful elevator etiquette went flying out the window as soon as some kids were introduced into the equation.
The small trunk in the corner was well stocked with some extremely used picture books and some of those primary colored logic toys that seemed like a big thing a decade or so ago. Sam thought the stuff looked a little outdated to keep any child intrigued for very long but the three children attached to different mothers quickly formed a wordless group of their own. In no time at all they had ordered the find in whatever logical arrangement towards their collective goal of not being bored.
Pretending to read the National Geographic in his lap, Sam listened to the receptionist explain the clipboard of papers for a new young patient. She assured the mother that the forms would only take a few minutes to fill out but they required a detailed history of any and all medical conditions and her daughter’s primary care physician. Sam’s gaze wandered to a large cork bulletin board that sat alongside the entrance with a few potted ferns. Hundreds of pictures of the doctor’s wards were tacked up all over it. Some had even been pushed out onto the frame, just about every single one pulling big goofy faces to display the pleasing results of the hard work a gentle man had performed on their smiles.
“Was I a weird kid?”
Dean responded with no hesitation whatsoever.
Sam waited for any kind of elaboration but his brother hadn’t even looked up from the middle of the paragraph he was reading. Sam tried to go back to his own article but found himself crossing and shifting his legs in agitation.
“I wasn’t weird.” He tried not to sound as curious as he was. “Was I?”
Dean shrugged and flipped a page.
“You were weird too.” Sam muttered. “Didn’t get to stick in a school until the 5th grade anyway, that would jack up anybody—“
“Not true.” Dean declared as he absently scrubbed at the back of his head. It was a common enough gesture to search the walls or ceiling for the right year and city that was waiting at ready in the surprisingly organized library of his memory. “First year you made it through without a move was uh ’89. Out in Cherry Fork.”
Sam suddenly recalled the one story brick building more vividly than most of their long term homes. The town name had been applied to its schools, the trees that bore the fruit in slouching rows around its playgrounds. There were shallow cement steps that had gone right to his classroom door. The long rectangular windows were always cluttered with crayon portraits set on manilla paper. Dad had once complained that the flag up on the yard pole should be replaced after the winter had almost ripped it in two.
“Man.” Dean laughed a little and shook his head. “You pitched the mother of all fits when we had to leave that joint.”
He didn’t remember that at all.
“Yup.” Dean tossed the spent magazine onto the table and pulled the next likely one up out of the pile. “You were pretty much the reason dad drank from 1990 to about well, when did you take off again—?“
“Shut up.” Sam distractedly wanted to redirect his brother back a little further. Back to where he couldn’t really remember anything at all. “What about before that?”
“Before that school, before the first grade, before—I don’t know.”
Sam felt uncomfortable again, his brother’s half amused gaze making him feel stupid for looking for all these details that all kids turned to adulthood wanted. Sam’s first days stopped being carefully catalogued after less than half a year had passed. No more random photographs had been taken with delicate short hand script written on the back of each picture. No scrapbooks filled with sentences of a fragmented fond memory to be explained over a well worn album. There were no quiet recounts of a late night car ride to a hospital now that the startling scare of an infant’s illness had long since passed.
Listening to the kid's random chatter, he knew his scrawls of art work weren’t yellowing in forgotten folders marked by grades. There was no proof of the entire summer he’d refused to eat nothing but French fries or the span of almost a year that he’d boycotted plain drinking water unless it had been dyed blue. There was no woman waiting eagerly to share her meticulous recollection of all the meaningless astonishing details of his youth.
The only archive of his childhood was sitting right next to him.
“You cried a lot.” Dean’s shoulder hitched in another laugh like the fact wasn’t something terrible.
For some reason Sam felt like he should apologize but he stopped himself.
“But dad got you this bear radio thing. It was a total piece of crap that picked up AM stations. Ya know, like guys talking about the stock exchange?”
Sam imagined his father wearily attaching something pastel and cheerful to the bars of a crib with duct tape. It made him smile a little bit. Dean was frowning at a pinup-like fold out advertisement for the 2007 Impala.
“That shit would knock you right out.” His brother said. “Well, until you got hungry again.”
“What was the first thing I ever said?”
Once again, his brother answered without any hesitation at all.
Dean paused again and reconsidered his answer.
“I guess it was more like a ‘daaaaaaa’, but you got your point across.”
Sam felt his hand cover his smile in his compliance with waiting room rules on overt signs of emotion of any kind.
“What’s so funny?” His brother asked.
“You used to wear that shirt everyday.” Sam shook his head. “All month. All year. That freakin’ Mortal Combat shirt you thought was so badass—“
“It was badass.” Dean snorted confidently as he flicked another page over. “Sub-Zero was awesome.”
“Sure.” Sam conceded as he settled back into his seat.
When a nurse appeared with a name, they both had to quickly sit up and pull their sprawled legs out of the way. The little boy tumbling past them seemed way too excited to have a dentist chair in his immediate future but Sam had been witness to stranger things. Maybe these visits still ended with one of those sugarless lame lollipops that you always never wanted to expect upon leaving.
“Cripes.” Dean smiled vaguely to himself as he gave up reading materials and eyed the coffee maker as the next possible distraction. “Forgot about all that.”
Sam was glad that his brother hadn’t quite remembered all those particulars.
He was more than happy that he could do just a little bit of it for him.