Rating: PG - wee!chesters - Gen
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Full time babysitting can be intellectually taxing.
It took three tries before the row of gas lights in the oven finally took.
The motel manager had told them it was broken just like everything else in the place. But Dean quickly figured out it was just the starter that was shot and all he had to do was put a lighter right to the vent inside the thing.
He learned just how careful the procedure was the hard way the first few times. He'd mastered doing it almost every time on the first try without actually sticking his head in there to monitor it. Flipping the zippo closed he examined his right hand still pink from the burns. It had stopped hurting a long time ago but now it just itched a lot. And who knew eye lashes grew back so fast?
It got to be really boring when dad went away for long stretches of a time.
It wasn't exactly that Dean lacked any company. There was company to be had 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He looked sideways at his kid brother who was sprawled on his stomach in front of the never ending stream of the television. Sam had some coloring book open but he was writing inside the curves of the pictures instead of filling the blank spaces like you were supposed to. Sammy never did anything right or the way you were theoretically meant to. Not the way Dean imagined other kids did anyway. He had to admit, his greatest source on the state of normalcy was what he saw on the prime time networks. And he had to admit again, he didn't see one trace of his family in anything he witnessed on the television screen.
When dad was home there was at least someone to talk with. Even when his dad didn't feel like talking, Dean was okay with being quiet too. But it was nice to have someone around if he wanted to say something that didn't have anything to do with some cartoon or school or everything that lay in Sammy's circle and view of the world. Dean was 12 for god's sake. He privately found it was a time in his life when playing in the dirt and babbling about how you wanted a wolverine with rainbow fur just didn't really cut it any more.
He pulled out the red and yellow frost covered box from the freezer and looked at the back for instructions that he knew by heart but read anyway. 45 minutes at 375. Serves 6. Between him and his brother that would be just about enough. He cut the cook time down to ten minutes by nuking them first in the microwave. It was a little short cut Dean had figured out after he realized the finer aspects to what an oven actually did. The frozen chicken nuggets slithered steaming and wet down onto the tray he'd covered in foil.
Dean had voiced his frustration at the lack of two way communication with his younger brother to his parent only once. His father had given him a small smile and just said not to worry. Sammy, he assured him, just wasn't ripe yet.
Wasn't ripe yet?
At the time Dean wondered how Sam was in any way connected to some kind of too green fruit but the more he thought about it the more it made sense. Like a year ago, Sam never talked like he did now. Dean could have actual sort of kind of interesting conversations with him if he tried hard enough. It was like Sam was busy changing right in front of him and it was so slow he couldn't really tell. Like those nature programs that showed a seed growing in fast forward, poking out of the soil and growing into a stalk with a flower all there in one minute flat. Dean sometimes wished he could get his hands on some kind of magical remote to zoom Sammy into some other age. This waiting around thing was getting to be a real drag.
Tossing a few plates on the table he leaned over into the sink to drink from the tap before thinking to go find a clean glass. The timer went off with a small ding. Using a towel to remove their appropriately singed dinner, Dean wondered just exactly how many times had he even done this. With a sigh he wondered how many more times he was gonna have to.
"What's in there?"
Dean paused with one of the processed nuggets on the way to his mouth. Sam had started talking a lot more usual the past month. Not just talking but asking. About everything. It wasn't like when he was a lot more little, when he was about three or so and everything was why, why, why, why and more whys. No, this was different. Dean thought he knew a lot about just about everything but every other question out of his little brother's mouth made him realize he didn't know much about anything at all.
He took another look at the strange unpoultry like lump covered in greasy breading. He looked back at the empty box that sat ripped open on the counter.
Dean figured he'd hazard his best educated guess. "Chicken?"
Sam bit the one he had on the end of his fork in half and examined the inside.
"It's not shaped like a chicken." Sam observed.
Dean shrugged and drowned his in a deluge of ketchup.
"It doesn't smell like a chicken." Sam added as he shoved another one in his mouth.
Dean chewed and wondered what exactly the hell a live clucking chicken actually smelled like anyway. For some reason nothing but a feather duster on a stick came to mind.
Sam sighed as he picked up another piece of food. "I don't think it's chicken--"
"Just eat it okay?"
Dean used a spatula to flip a few more of the half burnt things off the foiled tray and onto their plates. He made sure to limit just how many ended up in Sam. The kid was like a goldfish. He'd keep eating as long as there was food around. Dean was lucky if he stopped before he puked.
Sam was poking the ketchup bottle around with his fork.
Dean figured he knew what was coming.
"What's in there?"
Sam looked over at him in alarm. "Kitty cats?"
"Why do ya think they call it catsup?"
Dean laughed a little at his own stupid pun and at the fact that his brother, who tended to catch on to more and more these days, didn't seem able to make the lame connection. Sam's brow furrowed as he processed the logic of his older brother's words. Suspicious, he pulled the bottle closer and narrowed his eyes on its frayed label.
"It says, pro-propylene glycol a-alginate."
Dean looked down at his ketchup with a new found dubious appreciation.
"Dean? What's propylene gly--"
"It's cat parts."
With a frown, Sam slid the bottle away as he dabbed his chicken lump back hesitantly into his own ketchup supply.
"Hey Sammy?" Dean began, looking at his younger brother closely.
Sam had managed to fit two chicken pieces in his mouth at the same time.
"What are you thinkin' about?" Dean suddenly needed to know. "Like, right now?"
"Um." Sam noisily swallowed from his glass of milk as he considered the question. "I guess... I guess that cats taste kinda good?"
Dean stabbed his fork into his last nugget and sighed.
"What are you thinking about?" Sam repeated as he distractedly made a smiley face out of what was left of the propylene glycol alginate on his plate.
"I'm thinking I'm really tired and I wanna go to bed."
Sam sighed and blew up his messy bangs.
"What?" Dean demanded.
"You're so boring."
"Shut up." Dean countered lamely. "A-Am not!"
Sam didn't respond to the short and indignant response as he was too busy licking his plate clean. Dean watched him in mounting frustration. He was the drag around here? Fine. So what? Let him be some boring dude just because he knew for a fact that the hall closet wasn't a time machine. He also knew that just by saying so didn't necessarily make any carpeted ground into bubbling deadly lava. It was just groovy cool with him that he might not be a roller coaster ride of hilarity just because he knew what was what.
But he still was the one in freakin' charge around here.
"Do the dishes and then go to bed. Early."
Sam groaned and rolled around on the back of his chair. "Yer boring and mean."
"No, I'm not." Dean grumbled. "I'm just ripe."
He stood up and stretched, too full and too tired to bother with the shower he probably needed. Thinking about his bed and blankets he jumped when the bell rang on the decade old corded phone that sat by the stiff and uncomfortable sofa. Walking quickly towards it he assembled in his head the list of things his father would be asking about before he finished even saying Hello.
Reaching for the receiver, Dean considered maybe asking his father how his day went for a change.
Dean cringed as a plate hit the bottom of the sink much too loudly for it to have stayed intact.
A shattering glass met the plate’s fate in the hissing sink.
“Heh. It’s —no, everything’s fine? Just um some dishes. I know I should have just done them myself- yes sir. Yes, sir. No, sir! Y-Yes, sir.”
Dean slumped onto the sofa and rested his chin on his hand as his father began a long list of tasks. All of which involved a lot of dismantling, bore brushing and cleaning of firearms that nearly filled one of their equipment lockers to its top. His gaze went reluctantly to the trunk in question.
“By-by Monday sir?” He reaffirmed in a small voice.
Dean sat back, his scowl hidden from his father over the phone but in plain sight of his grinning little brother. Sam was going to be helping whether he knew it or not, ripen a little bit with a few later than usual nights with some jammed up pistols. Just Sammy, the smell of liquid powder solvent and gun grease. Maybe some of that hot wired cable channel too. Dean heard they were having a Die Hard marathon this weekend.
With a small half smile, Dean thought that sounded a lot more fun than doing it all alone.
And not very boring at all.