"You can't even imagine what a great pool player you're gonna be someday, Dean," Tall Sam laughs as he reaches around from behind and helps Dean position the cue again, lines it up with the ball, helps him shoot. With Tall Sam's help, he plays pretty well, and it makes Dean's chest glow with pride because Tall Sam looks so pleased.
"Only seems fair I get to teach you, since you taught me," he says with a grin, and Dean smiles back, uncomprehending as ever but needing to keep Tall Sam smiling. Needing to keep his eyes soft and his cheeks dimpling like that because it's definitely the best thing in the world.
Besides Baby Sam and Daddy, of course.
When Dean wakes up crying on the third night in the bunker, Tall Sam is right there, soothing Dean's brow and wiping away the tears as the memories of fire and screaming and heat and running away with Baby Sam heavy in his arms slowly fade. He knows he was crying for his mom because Tall Sam is saying, "It's okay, Dean. I know you miss Mom, I know it's tough, buddy. But you're gonna be okay. You just gotta trust me on that. You're gonna be okay."
Tall Sam rocks and soothes him until Dean falls asleep again, his face buried against Tall Sam's warm, solid chest.
They fall into a routine by the fifth day, Tall Sam doing his research in the library on the big table while Dean plays with Baby Sam on the floor, dangling measuring spoons and other shiny objects in front of the baby to make him reach and laugh. Dean loves to make the baby laugh. It's the best thing ever.
Tall Sam talks to Big Dean on the phone every day. His calls always start out worried and anxious, and by the end his voice lowers and Dean can't hear every word but he gets by the tone of Tall Sam's voice that he's resigned to waiting yet another day.
"Dad's gonna be fine," he tells Dean. "He pulled through the surgery and he's on the mend. They just need to keep him under observation for another twenty-four hours, make sure there's no infection. And no smoking again, ever. But I don't remember Dad smoking, do you?"
Dean shakes his head. He's learned to accept Tall Sam's way of referring to Daddy as "Dad." Doesn't question it. Dean's become so used to Tall Sam he pretty much accepts everything about him. He's already forgotten a time before he arrived in Dean's life, even though it's only been a few days. Life with Baby Sam and Tall Sam has become Dean's new normal.
Tall Sam makes grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for Dean for supper, leaving Baby Sam in the corner on the floor of the kitchen with his pots and pans and spoons. The baby happily bangs away while Tall Sam goes into the library to call Big Dean. Baby Sam bangs and bangs, then looks up and catches Dean watching him, laughs. Baby Sam's eyes are the same color as Tall Sam's -- kinda green, kinda brown, kinda gold, even a little blue. And when he laughs Dean can see the tiny indents in his cheeks that will someday grow into big dimples.
After supper Dean puts the baby down for the night, rocking him on the bed like he always does until Baby Sam falls asleep, then sliding down off the bed and stacking pillows around him so he doesn't fall off.
When he comes out into the hall Tall Sam is still talking on the phone to Big Dean, his voice rising and falling, and when Dean shuffles into the library Tall Sam looks up, smiles at Dean.
"Yeah, I gotta go," he says into the phone. "Just get here when you get here."
After he hangs up Tall Sam crosses the rom, puts his hand on Dean's head, smoothing back his hair and smiling down at him.
"You need a haircut," he says fondly, slipping his fingers through Dean's long mop. "Come on, while the baby's sleeping. Let's get you fixed up."
Dean finds himself in the bathroom, sitting on a chair on top of a table in front of the mirror, while Sam spreads a tablecloth over him, then goes to work on the back of his head. He's good at it, knows just how to cut the long strawberry blond strands of Dean's hair, so pretty soon the floor is littered with soft, curling baby hair.
Mommy will be so mad, Dean thinks. Mommy always liked his long hair, didn't want Daddy to get it cut. But Daddy would grumble, "You're gonna give him a complex, Mary. The kids at school are gonna think he's a girl."
Daddy will be happy now.
When he's done Tall Sam turns the chair back and forth, getting a good look at the sides of Dean's head, making sure everything is even. It's short, up off Dean's ears and forehead now, and it makes him look older, he thinks. Makes his green eyes and freckles stand out in his pale face.
"There," Tall Sam says finally, satisfied. "Now you look like yourself. Still little, but you. Definitely you."
Tall Sam reaches into his pocket, pulls out something that looks like a thick piece of black glass, fiddles with it before reaching it out in front of him and Dean. He leans down, so he's pressing his cheek against Dean's, his arm with the piece of glass extended straight out in front of them.
The glass flashes and Dean jumps, rubs his cheek on Tall Sam's scruff, and it's like sandpaper and hurts a little, but he doesn't complain. Tall Sam pulls away immediately, though, and looks apologetic.
"Sorry," Tall Sam says. "I needed a record of this moment. It's sorta historical. I hope you'll forgive me someday, Dean."
Dean blinks up at him, then smiles.
"It's okay," he assures Tall Sam, although he has no idea what he's agreeing to. "Don't worry."
Tall Sam goes still, stares at him silently for a moment, then reaches down and slides his thumb across Dean's cheek, cupping his chin so he can tilt his face up.
"Missouri was wrong," he says softly. "You're not funny-looking at all."
Dean feels an embarrassed blush rise in his cheeks, but Tall Sam is smiling again so Dean decides to let it go.
That's the moment when he hears voices, out in the hall, coming from the library.
Tall Sam hears them too, reaches out to pull the cloth off and pick Dean up, holding him as they move out into the hall, following the sound.
Big Dean is coming down the stairs into the library, yelling "Sam! Sammy!"
And with him, leaning heavily on him and limping and looking tired and sick -- it's Daddy.
Dean wiggles out of Tall Sam's arms, drops to the floor, runs across the room, flings himself against his father like there's nothing else, ever. He's got his arms tight around Daddy's legs and he's holding on for dear life, shaking with grief and shock because he had begun to think he'd never see Daddy again. That he was gone forever, like Mommy.
John Winchester holds still for a moment, letting his grown son support him as his little son hugs him, tries not to let on how weak and sick he still feels. He's got one arm slung across Big Dean's shoulders, and now he puts his other hand on Little Dean's head, mutters, "Hey, Dean," softly as he caresses the boy's tawny head.
Dean holds tight for another minute, then turns his face up. Daddy smiles reassuringly.
"It's okay, Dean," Daddy says. "I'm gonna be okay."
He lifts his head, looks across the room at Tall Sam, who's got tears in his eyes again.
"We're all gonna be okay," Daddy says, glancing at Big Dean, who nods once, looks down at Little Dean, then up at Tall Sam.
"Nice haircut," he comments, raising his eyebrows at Tall Sam, who's staring at Big Dean with something like the way Daddy used to look at Mommy, like he's looking at the sun and the moon and his whole world right there in one person.
Daddy's tired, but he wants an update, so Big Dean helps him sit down at the table in the library. Dean stays close, stands right next to Daddy's chair.
Big Dean takes one look at the Christmas tree, then turns to Tall Sam.
"Really? You got a Christmas tree?" he says to Tall Sam. "What the hell, Sam?"
Tall Sam is still looking stunned and tearful, staring at Big Dean like he's a parched traveler in a desert and Big Dean is a big cool class of water. He's got a similar look for Daddy, even if it's not quite so hungry.
But he recovers quickly, swiping his sleeve across his eyes and inhaling a big sniffly breath.
"Yeah," Tall Sam nods. "The kids need a little Christmas cheer, after what they've been through. You got a problem with that?"
Big Dean snorts derisively. "We never had Christmas, Sam. Not after Mom died. Never. It's just some pansy-assed made-up excuse to spend money and make people feel like crap because they can't afford shit. You know that. What're you trying to do, make it worse?"
Big Dean glares at Tall Sam, then at Dean, who's crawled into Daddy's lap and huddles in, safe and warm and sure of his father's love.
"No, Christmas is good," Daddy says, hugging Dean close with one arm. "Normal is good. It's crazy enough, finding out what you boys take for granted. Hell, I'm still taking it all in, trying to get it straight in my mind."
He looks up at Tall Sam, smiles a little, and that's when Dean realizes that Daddy looks like Tall Sam. They have the same dimples.
"You did good, son," Daddy says to Tall Sam. "Thank you."
Tall Sam turns red, tears up again, looks like he's gonna start crying in earnest.
Then Daddy gets serious, puts Dean down with a quick kiss and a soft word, but it's firm, it's an order, so Dean knows he has to obey.
"Go play now. Grown-ups got some talking to do."
Dean retreats into his corner of the room, exchanging a glance with Tall Sam, who smiles kindly and nods at him, so Dean knows he's okay with this. He's as happy to see Daddy as Dean is, and Dean has the feeling he wishes he could give Daddy a big hug but he doesn't. Maybe it's because he's grown up and grown men don't hug each other much, Dean considers.
But later, after the men have talked and Big Dean helps Daddy get to bed, since they checked out of the hospital early and Daddy really needs another week to recover so it's agreed they'll all stay here together till Daddy gets better -- until after Christmas -- and Tall Sam tucks Dean into bed with a kiss -- then Dean hears voices in the hall and he creeps out of bed, meaning to go to the bathroom and get a drink of water.
But instead he stops in the shadow of the doorway because he sees them -- Big Dean and Tall Sam -- in the hall, talking in low voices, heads bent together, leaning into each other like they're two halves of one person.
"We have to protect them, Dean," Tall Sam is saying. "We're clearly meant to be here. I can't see how they -- how we -- even survived this first year. Azazel was on a rampage, killed everyone Dad knew -- no wonder he got out of Lawrence so fast."
"I called Pastor Jim," Big Dean says. "As soon as Dad's up to it, we need to take them to Minnesota, to Jim Murphy's place. He's expecting us."
Big Dean hesitates for a moment, then looks up, and Dean can see his eyes shining.
"He remembers us, Sam," Big Dean is saying. "Like we were here before. Another time. We made another trip to this time, I guess. Maybe we were laying the groundwork for this or something."
"Wait -- he remembers us? As in us us?" Tall Sam clarifies.
"No! God, no," Big Dean says. "Pastor Jim just thinks we're hunters who are looking for a place to hide a family for a few years, till the kids get old enough to be a little less helpless. He's definitely on board with it. Got a house all set up for them to live -- for us to live -- I sorta remember this, Sam. I think we stayed there till I was about seven or eight."
Tall Sam nods, looks grim. "So Dad's okay with it? You told him?"
Big Dean nods. "'Course I did," he mutters. "He's Dad. Can't keep something like this from him. He needs to know what he's up against."
Tall Sam nods again. "How'd he take it?"
"How'd'ya think he took it?" Big Dean grouses. "Like I said, he's Dad. He may have just lost his wife in a terrible, tragic supernatural event, but he's tough. He's a marine. He's gonna survive."
"He just survived a demon attack on his life," Tall Sam says. "I don't think that happened the first time. Makes me wonder if there's other things we've altered just by being here."
"How do you know that didn't happen the first time?" Big Dean asks. "I mean, I don't remember it, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. My memories of that time are pretty hazy. It's possible that Azazel sent his demons to kill Dad as a way to orphan us, make us more vulnerable and isolated. That's what happened to some of those other psychic kids, remember? A lot of them ended up orphans, adopted, stuff like that. So what if that's what Azazel was planning with us?"
Tall Sam stares silently for a minute, then shakes his head.
"So you're saying if we hadn't been there to save Dad from that attack, we'd have been orphans right off the bat. Adopted by strangers. Raised like that psycho kid from Saginaw -- "
"Max," Big Dean fills in.
"Max, right," Tall Sam nods.
They're both silent for a minute, and Dean holds his breath, willing them not to notice him.
They don't. They're far too wrapped up in their own memories. And in each other.
"Wow," Tall Sam says eventually.
Big Dean nods.
"Yeah," he agrees.
"You know, we could tell Dad," Tall Sam says finally. Big Dean looks up, raises his eyebrows. "About the demon blood, I mean. We know he finds out somehow. Maybe we told him."
Big Dean is shaking his head.
"No," he mutters, then "No, no, no," a little louder, firm.
"I just think he has a right to know if his own son is a -- "
"No!" Big Dean barks, grabs Tall Sam's shirts in his fists and shakes him, shoves him against the wall and glares up at him fiercely. "No, Sam, he does not need to know that. Not now."
Tall Sam swallows, his lips part and his face flushes. He holds Big Dean's gaze for a minute, then lowers his eyes to his mouth.
Dean feels embarrassed suddenly, like he's watching something he's not supposed to, something secret and private. He backs up slowly, being as quiet as he can, and pads back to bed, leaving the door slightly ajar.
There's no more sound from the hallway, and Dean curls his body around his sleeping brother, snuggles close so he can take deep breaths of his warm baby smell, lets it lull him to sleep, hoping this time the nightmares will stay away.
When he wakes up Baby Sam is already awake, flailing his arms and making raspberries.
Dean gives his brother a kiss, then climbs off the bed and heads down the hall to the bathroom, then the kitchen.
Big Dean is there, making something in a frying pan that smells like onions.
"Hey, Mini Me," he growls in greeting.
Dean ignores him, takes a bottle out of the refrigerator, pads over to the sink, pulls a chair up so he can climb up and turn on the hot water, lets it run a minute, pulls a pan off the sideboard and sticks the bottle in a pan of hot water to warm.
Big Dean watches him, eyebrow raised.
"Need any help?" he barks, and Dean shakes his head.
"Okay then," Big Dean nods, turns back to his pan of onions and eggs, all scrambled up and smelling pretty good.
Dean stands on the chair, waiting for the bottle to warm, trying not to look at Big Dean's broad back.
Big Dean finishes cooking, scoops the food onto a couple of plates, turns back to Dean, holding out the steaming food.
"You hungry?" he asks.
Dean hesitates. The food smells so good, like Mommy's cooking. But he doesn't like Big Dean, senses that Big Dean doesn't like him either, and he's reluctant to eat before he feeds the baby anyway.
"Come on," Big Dean coaxes, gesturing toward the table. "While the bottle warms. Just a couple of bites. It's damn good, you can count on that."
Big Dean puts the plates on the table, finds a couple of forks, pours Dean a glass of juice, sits down at the other place and starts pouring salt on the scrambled eggs.
Dean's stomach gets the better of him and he climbs down, pulls the chair over to the table, climbs back up on his knees at the table, reaches for the salt.
Big Dean has mixed onions and bacon bits with the eggs, and they taste incredible. Big Dean grins at him as he takes a bite, takes another bite, then shovels the whole plate into his mouth hungrily, despite how hot the eggs are and how they burn the roof of his mouth.
"That's it," Big Dean nods. "Good, huh?"
Dean just nods because his mouth is full and he can't speak. He drinks his juice, climbs off the chair, pulls it over to the sink again so he can reach the bottle, climbs down with it and heads toward the door. He's almost out when he remembers his manners.
He turns back to see Big Dean watching him, an amused frown creasing his brow.
"Thank you," he says solemnly. "It was good."
"You're welcome, little man," Big Dean says with a satisfied nod. "Come back tomorrow morning and I'll show you how to make it for yourself."
Dean nods, then hurries back to his room with the bottle. He's afraid he's been gone too long, but Baby Sam is still playing with his toes, practicing turning over on the bed, and luckily he hasn't managed to scoot off the edge yet. He grins at Dean and grabs at the bottle as Dean hands it to him, sucking it into his mouth in one big slurp.
"Big Dean can be nice," he tells Sam. "Tall Sam likes him, so maybe he's okay."
Baby Sam's eyes are at half-mast and he's pretty focused on his bottle, so he doesn't answer.
PART FOUR - BACK TO MASTERPOST