Parts 1 - 2 - 3
Rating: PG - Gen - Wee! & Teen!Chesters - Pastor Jim POV
Spoilers: None (Comments have spoilers for S1 eps. 21&22)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
It was like this every time the boys were left in his charge.
Truth be told he enjoyed their company. Mostly because not many children would look forward to staying in with a boring old man like him. Let alone in a small town like this one. Throughout the years he came to take a great deal of joy in seeing those boys scrambling out of the car before John could even park. Dean had in the last several years stopped with the welcome hug that Sam still delivered around the waist, but he didn't shirk away from a good hard scrub across his army buzzed head.
John always with the firm handshake and that awkward half embrace around the shoulder. Jim knew it embarrassed the ex-marine and appreciated the gesture no matter how stiff it was. As was routine, Jim would always step away into the small kitchen to put on coffee and listen to John tell his boys how to behave while he was gone. He heard their dutiful 'yes sirs' and 'no sirs'. They'd talk alone for a little while before John took off.
John was quietly grateful as they spoke while the boys found the room they always stayed in. He'd sip his coffee and talk shop in that distracted tired voice he had. He'd always offer some cash that Jim always refused. The youngest Winchester child always waited impatiently until Jim had settled them in and fed them some sandwiches before hastily requesting being allowed to go to his library.
It sounded a lot more grand than it was.
Jim lived in the small house just behind his church. A three story structure that creaked and groaned with every wooden planked step and stair. The very top of the place he'd made into his own cramped study with his private collection of books that would not be very fit to be seen within the church walls. Sam liked it up there the most. With the down slanted ceilings and the books stacked and crammed into every shelf, the cluttered desk under the bright window and the rusty old fan that clicked on it that kept the breeze cool even in summer.
Sometimes like today, he'd carry a stack of them down here to sit at the table in the kitchen so he could discuss what he read while he found it.
"So um, how long where you there for?" The ten year old inquired.
Jim smiled at the massive amount of time four years would seem to a child of his age. Almost half a life time was hard to comprehend as an adult, but as a boy you might as well have told him he had been away behind school walls forever and ever and ever...
"Maybe I'll go one day."
"I'm sure your father would get a kick out of that," Jim kept in his laugh but not his grin. "A Winchester boy in a seminary huh?"
"I could go," Sam defiantly flipped a page of the large book on the table before him. "Then I could read all I want."
"You can do that now."
"It's not the same." Sam sighed and leaned his head into his palm.
With one finger he traced the symbols and letters, but just a centimeter over the old parchment so he wouldn't make contact with the paper. He had always done that even though Jim had never specifically asked him to. It spared the worn paper of the oils and infinitesimal smudges of the hand that would eventually reduce the ancient words to nothing.
Jim didn't bother to tell him that he had truly been educated out in the world and not behind the tomes. His pastoral work and the years he spent outside the hallowed halls of the academic. The missions. The dark paths the church ignored in favor of its perceived innocence. The reality of sin and what forms it came in. Watching Sam reverently turn another yellowed page, he looked forward to the years when their conversations could turn to those things. He found himself eager for the day when they would be two men sitting in this room and not a student and teacher.
Although, Jim wasn't always sure which role was whose sometimes.
"I want to be a seed." Sam covered his smile with a hand, looking at the clergy man to gauge how much trouble the statement might get him in.
But Jim wasn't sure he'd caught on to exactly what Sam thought was so funny. It happened often enough. The child was usually thinking about ten steps ahead and to the right of him.
"Seminarium!" Sam finally started giggling, unable to keep in the joke.
The daring childish form of blasphemy was enough to pull a laugh out of Jim as well. He couldn't really argue with it now could he? The boy was right. The Latin translation of 'Seminary' did indeed mean and translate to seed-bed. The pleasant picture Sam had turned the solemn grounds of the schools of divinity made his smile deepen further.
"Are you hungry?"
Sam nodded absently as he read.
"Should we wait for your brother?"
Jim glanced out the window into his back yard that ran into a stone wall and then the farm field beyond. His garden was growing wildly out of control but he kind of liked the bright green chaotic tangle of vine and weed, flowers and shrubs that kept his domain in relative privacy. While Sam read his days away, Dean had been out walking. He'd vanish out into the fields just about every day just as his brother vanished up the stairs. Jim never asked where he went or what he was up to. He'd just look out the window every now and then and see if he could spot the familiar shape out in the distance when Dean decided it was time to come back.
He had been putting away the small dinner of chicken and rice he and Sam had shared with lemonade on his back porch, when the screen door finally creaked open. Without asking for any dinner himself, Dean nodded to him and made his way up the stairs to their room.
He often woke up in the middle of the night for no good reason.
Diligence. Bad dreams. The nagging piece of some puzzle of his research coming together in the dark as he dozed just beyond sleeps reach. But tonight it was a bathroom door shutting.
Used to having the house to himself, Jim found it comforting to hear footsteps going to and fro in the middle of the night. Soft voices of other human beings within his walls. He didn't often think of himself as a lonely man considering how embroiled and lost he became in his own intense pursuits. A fellow clergy man had once joked they were cut from a cloth not made fit to marry because they had only room in their lives for God and His Work. Jim supposed maybe that was correct. But it was sometimes nice to place three plates on a table and hear Sam talk about just about anything at all.
His room was stuffy. With a sigh he decided to haul himself out of bed to open the hallway landing window. It always sent a cross breeze right into his bedroom. He stood for a moment in the open window and breathed in the pleasant scent of the churned up earth from surrounding farms. About to return to his room and attempt to get some rest before dawn came, he paused.
The flicker of the television was on downstairs.
Tying the belt on his robe he went quietly down the steps to see if maybe one of the boys had left it on. Instead, he saw Dean laying awake on the sagging worn brown velvet sofa. Without speaking he sat down next to him to stare at the fuzzy image of a television sitcom with the volume down much too low for the boy to be actually watching it.
"Sorry," Dean said softly. "I woke you up."
"No," Jim assured him. "When you get to be my age, you wake up at all hours."
"Yer not that old." Dean shifted and readjusted his head on the armrest, his legs half tucked up underneath himself.
Jim's chest hitched in a quiet laugh. "I think in a few years, I'll maybe need no sleep at all."
The crickets and frogs just outside the open windows sang in an ebb and flow with the night air that breathed in and out, billowing the white curtains that a member of the flock had long ago hung in her attempts to domesticate the place.
"It's so quiet here." Dean murmured.
Jim nodded, thinking of the surrounding patches of forests and the wide open green places the young man next to him wandered all day long. Young man. He was just that wasn't he? This childhood was setting like the sliver of moon Jim could see white and bright through the trees just outside. Forced a little faster down behind the horizon than most. The thought made him just a little bit sad.
Jim knew when a person was ready.
To believe. To walk. To let go. To die. To give up. To confess.
He knew it like he knew that his heart was beating and how he knew there was a God in his sky. He knew that when a person granted you the privilege of their mind that you did nothing but listen.
"I was wonderin'?"
Jim wasn't prepared for a question. The stitched line above Dean's brow was healing, and the bruises along his jaw were greenish and brown. They were strangely sickly colors to mean a wound was on the mend. Clad only in an under shirt and some shorts, Jim could see the circles and lines of where tape had cut into the flesh of the boy's legs, arms, wrists. Still clear in this dim light so many days later.
Dean sat up and took a deep breath.
"Would it be okay, if um, would be okay if I stayed for a while?" He folded and unfolded his arms across his chest uncertainly. "W-With you?"
Jim studied him carefully in the stutter and flash of the television's light.
"Not for a real long time or anything?" Dean added in a rush, mistaking Jim's silence for hesitancy. "M-Maybe just a week ... or maybe two?"
Without a word, Jim offered his arm out.
To the clergy man's surprise, Dean without pause and without a moment's thought leaned into it, silently squeezing his folded arms tighter against his chest. Jim gently put his other arm around the young man's shoulders, patting him and stroking his back softly when he felt the small tremors Dean was trying to hide finally start. The sudden harsh intake of breath from the lowered head pressed hard into Jim's shoulder, and the older man could feel the tension held in check within the body he held just snap.
Jim held up his robe sleeve so Dean could use it on his eyes and nose. If he couldn't offer anything else, he could at least give what the boy asked for.
Some solace. Some silence.
But mostly, just some time.