Author: Mink & Jink
Rating: PG - Gen- wee & teen!chesters
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Sam unwittingly begins to play a dangerous joke on his brother.
There was law and there was bending it. That was the dogma of being 10 years old-- learning what you could get away with. At least he assumed that what it was all about. Usually his older brother could be counted on to be on his side. That all changed whenever his brother and dad had a changing of the guard.
Sam couldn't sleep. It was eleven o’clock going fast to midnight and he was wide awake. Fidgety through the John Woo video he'd watched over and over and the horror film previews on pay per view, Sam was starved for distraction.
"Time for bed, Sam." Dean grabbed the remote, clicking off the TV.
"Awwww." Sam's lower lip stuck out. "Not sleepy."
"Get sleepy." Dean said firmly. "Go on and brush your teeth."
Reluctantly, Sam slid off the chair. "But "Blood Suckers III is on?"
"Sammy... not tonight. "Dean rubbed at his eyes.
Sam padded into the bathroom, snatching his worn Snoopy toothbrush in his fist. Stupid Dean. The whole point of Dad being gone all week was to stay up as late as they wanted. Why was he the only smart one around here?
As he stared up at the cracked plaster ceiling, Sam made up his mind. The second he heard the click of Dean's light going out, the place was his.
The dark had a way of making all spaces seem empty and frightening. Not afraid, Sam saw only potential. Sliding a bare foot into the hallway, bent wires clutched tight in his sweaty fist, he moved soundlessly down the hall. Unlike most 10 year olds, one of the first things his father had ever taught him was how to move so no one knew you were there at all.
If there was one truth in Sam's mind it was that no place was more seductive to a child than where adults stored secrets.
The lock on their father's storage closet was not difficult to manipulate. A few times he paused in the silence, cold seeping into his belly at the thought of Dean's shadow behind him. With a tiny gratifying click, the lock dropped into his waiting palm. Sam felt his heart thump as he quietly turned the knob.
He didn't know why all this stuff was locked away half the time anyway. Dad had given Sam his own pistol almost over a year now and no one ever said anything about it when he took it carefully out of its holster and cleaned it just as he had been taught. He wanted to start using the weapons Dean used. Like the shotguns and the knives. He could already read the long lines of Latin and that weird English better than his older brother anyway. Why shouldn't he be allowed to practice with dad's stuff too?
It was all there neatly and haphazardly arrayed in the battered case. Sam let his finger tips linger on the sharp pointed edges of the jagged steel stars, and let his hand settle on the worn leather handle of a curved blade.
There was another wooden box nestled down in the corner of the locker. Curious he pulled it out, a quick glance over his shoulder to make sure Dean was still soundly asleep. He flipped it open, the curious smell of soil and the bitter aroma of leaves wafting from its contents. There was a small vial of fluid that he knew well enough to be water blessed by an ordained priest. Beside it was sea salt from a foreign sea that had been or soon would be blessed the same. There was rolled sage and a bottle of rose water. Sam smiled. Not all weapons were dangerous. At least to them. Some were even simple talisman of safety. Or luck. Or health. Protection.
He was about to shut it when something caught his eye. It was a small packet. It was made of folded paper, like the kind he'd seen that contained seeds for garden flowers. The size of a playing card he plucked it from where it lay half hidden amongst his father's arsenal of good luck charms. It was bright blue, like the sky, and it had a picture painted on it of a colorful laughing bird. Sam flipped it over, seeing his father's rushed and garbled handwriting.
It read: the prankster of the forest
Sam's mile deepened, unfolding the paper to see the dried contents inside. A dark brown, like a powder. It smelled like nothing and there wasn't much of it. Laughing a little bit at the pleasant image of the bird he'd decided to see what this prankster was capable of.
It was almost unbearable to have to sit across from his 14 year old brother and watch and wait for him to finish his food.
Dean spooned up some of the soup he'd made for them both and glared up at him from over his bowl. "I swear to god Sam--"
"I'm eating." Sam toyed with his noodles that floated lukewarm in his bowl.
"No you're not."
"Shut up, yes I am. SEE?" Sam made a show of shoving as much noodle and soup into his mouth at once.
Dean ignored him, reaching into the bag of wonder bread again to make what they had spread out a little longer. Sam slurped at his soup and wondered if they could have something besides soup next week when dad came back. He was sick of waking up hungry and he was really sick of tomato and noodle soup. And wonder bread. He thought it was ok when they had at least peanut butter to put on it but that was long gone.
His bowl was empty. He watched Dean refill it with what was left in the pot.
Sam ate it knowing that Dean could have split it between them but didn't. Dean never seemed as hungry as he was. Sam looked at the neat row of soup cans that had to last them until Monday.
"Why can't we get some more food?" Sam inquired as he picked a noodle off his spoon. "Dad left us money."
Dean sighed. "They don't like kids hanging out here with no parents Sammy."
"So what." Sam had seen enough motel rooms to know that some people didn't seem to mind at all.
"So I had to pay the guy so we'd still be here when Dad gets back." Dean tiredly shoved his bowl back. "Don't worry, when he gets back we're going out to eat."
Sam was hopeful with that. He liked the crowded diners they went to sometimes. He liked reading all the different food on the menus and the gumball machines that always sat by the doors. He looked back at his brother and wondered when the prank powder would start working. He peeked over to make sure Dean had eaten all his food and he had, all the soup was gone, along with the pinch of the powder Sam had sneaked in while Dean hadn't been looking. Sam hoped it'd make him smile again like he used to all the time. Ever since his older brother's last birthday he'd gotten quieter and so serious. The taller Dean got, the stranger he got.
His third bowl of soup gone and Sam felt finally, for the time being, full and sated.
"I'm watching TV." He attempted, looking sideways to see if Dean would say no.
"Nope." Dean cut him off. "We're taking a walk."
Sam scowled. "I don't want--"
"Just put on your coat."
They were always going on walks like this. Sam walked dejectedly behind his older brother down the cracked sidewalk. Sometimes Sam had to pretend to be lost while Dean stole a new magazine, or some food or even the money out of the cash registers.
Sam had gotten really good at pretending he was crying extra special hard so the adults would all pay extra special attention to him. Sometimes he just had to wait and let his brother know if anyone was coming. Other times Dean just wanted to walk and they never went anywhere at all.
A group of kids Dean's age passed them on the opposite side of the street, laughing and talking about a movie with one another. Sam watched Dean hunch down closer into himself and start walking faster, making Sam, just almost at Dean's shoulder, have to double his pace to keep up.
"Want to go see new comics?" Sam attempted at Dean's back. They had spent 3 hours flipping through comic books the previous day before they were nudged out by the guy paid to mop the floors. Sam knew there wouldn't be any new ones but Dean was being so boring.
"Geeze." Dean growled, rolling up his denim jacket sleeve.
Sam trudged behind him with his hands in his pockets. "What?"
Dean was scratching at his forearms. "Dunno, just itchy is all." He adjusted his jeans, his legs seemingly bothering him as well.
"Is it bugs?"
"No, just be quiet would ya."
Sam suddenly stopped in his tracks. The powder! It had to be! He felt for the blue packet in his jacket pocket and willed himself not to laugh like he wanted to. The sun slanted down, the trees and lampposts slashing black lines across the pavement. He was hungry again and his feet hurt.
"Dean, wanna go home?"
His brother took the turn that would lead them back to the motel.
Sam had been watching almost 2 hours of cartoons before his brother had even gotten out of bed long enough to take a shower. When he went right back to bed Sam gave up and decided to make his own breakfast. Besides it was a great way to get in the prank dust into the soup.
Sam slowly opened another can of boring soup and messed around with the old hot plate until he got it working long enough so they wouldn't have to eat their morning soup cold. While it heated, he dutifully flipped through his Latin phrase book while he also leafed through two different books his dad said he should know by heart. They were the neat old kind of books because someone had written it all by hand and they had all the words in his Latin dictionary. He often read two or three books at the same time, liking the yellowed smell of the paper. Dean once said that it must be confusing but Sam didn't understand why.
A yawn and a groan behind him and he knew his brother was finally awake and up. Dean leaned down over his shoulder to examine what his younger brother was up to.
"What does uh uh bibere venenum in auro mean?" He asked as he scratched at his chest.
Sam absently put his pencil to his forehead while he flipped another page to his book. "Ummm, 'drink poison from a cup of gold'." He shrugged.
"Why would anyone do that..." Dean grumbled to himself, trying not to sigh at the inevitable sight of soup before him. His eyes had dark circles around them despite all the sleep he'd had.
"Can I go to the park today Dean?" Sam liked that it was right by the small local airport. The park's humble play ground was right beneath the approach path for one of its runways. If you could snag a swing before the other kids you could swing and watch the airplanes zoom right over your head. "You can leave me there like last time, I won't go anywhere else I promise."
"Sure." Dean mumbled, his hand trembling slightly as he ate his food. "Whatever."
Sam watched the soup disappear with a small grin on his face. Man oh man, if he was itchy yesterday, with how much he put in today, Dean was going itch like crazy.
Dean didn't bring him to the park like he had wanted. Instead they were at some pay phone in the corner of a gas station parking lot. Sam crouched down on the roadside and picked through rocks that had settled in pile by a storm drain.
"Hello?" Dean asked, the black plastic receiver clutched tightly in his pale fist. "I'm-I'm looking for John Tyler... is he there- oh- oh okay...okay... thanks. If he comes around could you tell him... hello? Hello?"
Sam looked back up from scratched fuzzy marble he'd found in the sand when the phone was sharply replaced onto the hook.
Dean shoved his hands down into his jean pockets and looked around until he spotted Sam. His green eyes were glossy and strange.
"Was that dad?"
"Just shut up."
His brother was pale, like when Sam remembered Dean gotten cut with a knife when he had been sharpening it and it slipped into his palm several months back. Dean never wanted to do anything these days besides sulk around. He was always thinking instead of talking like he usually was. Sam pulled the hood of his sweat shirt up over his head and down far enough that all he had to look at was the sidewalks under his sneakers.
He was tired of Dean's weird moods. Being around him for so long was getting to be a drag. Maybe when dad got back he could ask about maybe putting them both into a local school for a little while.
It would be nice to be around other kids.
"Can we go to the park now?" Sam ventured to ask Dean's back.
Dean said nothing.
With a small sigh, Sam followed his brother’s footsteps along the sidewalk knowing better than to ask again.
to be continued...