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January 2018

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deanflower

Birfday storytime.

Birthday fiction for my darling innie_darling. A day late, honey, but hopefully not much over a dollar short. *HUGS*

Title: Sugar Horses
Pairing: Gen
Rating: PG
Summary: Sam is mystified by Dean's recent behavior.
Warnings: Set in the Haystack and Birthday 'verses, and won't make a lick of sense without having encountered those. Chronologically this is set sometime after Dean's eighth birthday. My deepest thanks to girl_wonder and elyssadc for the fast and excellent beta reads!

Sugar Horses
By Emily Brunson
©2008


For Kunju, on the belated but heartfelt celebration of her joyous natal day.




It starts off with a little bit of fever. Just a couple of degrees, but Dean’s dull and uncharacteristically reluctant to eat.

“Is your throat sore?” Sam asks, narrowing his eyes. “Muscles ache?”

“Nuh-uh.” Dean pushes his glass of orange juice away untouched. “M’okay.”

“’Cause you got a temperature, kiddo.”

“’Sposed to go to school.” Dean says it with all the enthusiasm of a piece of wet paper, but nothing unusual about that.

Sam chews his lip and says, “Well, okay. But you go see the nurse at school if you start feeling bad, okay? Don’t forget your lunch.”

There’s no call from the nurse, and Dean’s fever is gone that evening. But the next morning he doesn’t touch his Lucky Charms. Sam props his chin on his hand and watches him. “You okay?”

Dean’s eyes flicker away, and he gives a hitching sigh. “Can we go see Uncle Bobby?”

Sam sits up. “Bobby? What, just to go visit? Dean, school isn’t out yet –“

“I wanna see Uncle Bobby,” Dean says, in a thin wavering voice. “Can we?”

“Dean,” Sam says slowly, “do you want to go see Bobby? Or are you telling me you need to see Bobby, because –“

“I GOTTA go see Uncle Bobby,” Dean says, and gives a hoarse cough. “He’ll know.”

A trickle of foreboding wriggles down Sam’s spine. It’s been a tough year, okay, starting off with the move northwest, the new school, new rental house -- But Dean’s never really said much about Bobby; Sam’s never been entirely sure he knew Bobby at this age, and he’s sure never asked to go see him.

Which…could mean a lot of things. Only a few of those – two or three, tops – are even remotely good.

“He’ll know what?” Sam asks, not without dread.

“What to do.”

“DEAN.”

“Don’t wanna say,” Dean says, and studies his fingernails. There’s blue paint beneath the nails, in spite of his bath. Sam’s starting to think fingerpainting was created by Satan.

“So – you want me to drive us all the way to South Dakota to go see Bobby, but you won’t tell me why.”

Dean’s lower lip gives a tiny quiver, and Sam swallows. Oh no. Not falling for that again. “All right,” he says, more lightly than he feels. “I’ll give him a call, tell him we’ll drive out to see him.”

Dean’s eyes light up, and he draws a breath.

“After,” Sam says, holding up a finger.

Dean deflates.

“After school’s out. You still got nearly a month to go, Deanerino. No way.”

Dean’s shoulders visibly tense. “It’s gotta be now!” he shouts, chin jutting out. “That’s too long!”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Inside voice, dude, okay?” Sam sighs. “Dean, unless you tell me why –“

“Because,” Dean says breathlessly. “It just does.”

Sam squints at him. “Dean, how do you know Bobby? Did we go see him before? You know – when we were both little?”

“He’s Dad’s friend.”

“Well, sure, and he’s my friend, but -- I’m pretty sure you didn’t ever meet him. Before.”

Dean’s chin starts to stick out a little again. His cheeks are flushed. “He knows stuff. Important stuff.”

“Yeah,” Sam says, drawing out the syllables. “I do, too, so does Dad. Tell me, Dean. Okay? We’ll find out, and if we can’t, then -- Then we’ll go see Bobby, how’s that?”

“Man.” Dean lets his head sag to one side, giving Sam a disgusted, flat look so very familiar he feels it like an electric shock. “It’ll be easier,” Dean says, and rolls his eyes. “Bobby already knows.”

“How do you know?”

“’Cause Dad wrote about him in his journal. And he said that Bobby Singer’s the go-to guy.”

Sam can almost hear Dad saying it; he knows he’s read that page in Dad’s journal, too. He scrapes his fingers through his hair and sighs. “Okay, Dean. Okay. We’ll go. This weekend –“

“No.” Dean shakes his head firmly. “Gotta be now.”

Sam stares at him. “Now, as in – Now?”

“Right now, Sammy. Please!”

“Dean, Bobby’s house is over a thousand miles awa –“

“Sammy, please?”

Sam meets that imploring green gaze and thinks dully, Well, there it goes. The last of my semi-parental authority, gasping out its last right here on the kitchen floor.

And also: I wonder if this is what Dean always meant when he said, “Don’t look at me that way?”

“Okay,” he says in defeat. “Go pack some clothes. And not your Spiderman costume!”

“But Saaaammmm…”




Under a hundred miles out, he’s pretty sure Dean’s secret is a big one. Sam’s flipflopped between exasperated and bordering on scared so many times his head’s about to spin off his neck, and he really – really – wishes Dean were old enough to drive.

“Hurry,” Dean whispers, head leaned against Sam’s shoulder. “Go faster.”

“Dean, what’s the damn rush? Look, I yanked you out of school – which, by the way, you are so gonna have to make up, because – and I haven’t even called work yet, and this is like, busy time of the year so –“

“Sammy.”

He clamps his lips together and looks down. Dean’s eyes are wide and guileless. “It’s gonna be okay,” he says. “Long as we get there really soon.”

Sam swallows his objections and looks back at the road. “Should have flown,” he mutters.

“Planes suck.”

A smile twitches at Sam’s lips. “Yeah. Guess they kinda do.”

Dean falls asleep in the back seat around nine, thatch of blond hair barely visible above a heavy plaid blanket, and Sam buys coffee at a drive-in and steels himself for a long-ass drive. It’s nuts, but he’s learned that even when Dean’s eight years old, he can’t ignore that flavor of urgency. If Dean has a reason he needs to see Bobby, then he has a reason – it’ll probably turn out to be a primary-school-age reason, but Dean’s lost enough this year; if he wants this, then he’ll get it.

Even if Sam does lose his job. Which will mean no rent, and that might mean a call to Dad, and Sam really dreads that phone call. Can’t afford a kid, Sam? Maybe I better take him back.

“Over my dead body,” Sam whispers now, and hears Dean’s soft snores behind him.

He finally pulls into a rest stop outside some little podunk place past Missoula, sleeps for what feels like about twenty seconds before Dean’s leaning over the back of the seat, yawning, saying, “We there yet, Sammy?”

Sam pries gummy lips apart and rasps, “Not quite.”

Dean peers down at him, bright-eyed. “You need coffee,” he says gravely.

“Oh man, do I.”

They have breakfast at a McDonalds, where Sam burns his tongue on fiery-hot coffee and watches Dean inhale his pancakes, casting yearning looks at the playground outside.

“No way,” Sam rasps. “This was your idea. Remember?”

Dean chews his lip and then nods. “Okay. You had enough coffee yet?”

Not even close, Sam thinks, and nods back.




They hit Castle Rock by 3:00, and by then Sam’s so fried he really doesn’t care why Dean’s all freaky about seeing Bobby. He just wants to take his damn foot off the gas for a while.

Singer Salvage is awfully quiet.

Sam puts the Impala in park and lets the engine idle. “Dean,” he says slowly, “did you actually tell Bobby we were coming?”

Dean sucks on his lower lip for a moment. “Don’t remember.”

Great, Sam. You took your instructions from an eight-year-old. What did you expect?

He’s had a headache since Billings, and now it throbs behind his eyes, dull and insistent. “Dean,” he continues, “did you even talk to Bobby at all?”

Dean studies his hands in his lap very intently. “He’s in Dad’s book,” he mumbles.

“I know he’s in Dad’s journal, okay?” Sam turns to look at him, makes himself take a deep breath. “But Dean, Bobby’s on the road almost as much as we are. He could be anywhere by –“

Dean points. “Is that him?”

Sam looks, and clears his throat. Lets his shoulders sag. “Yeah,” he says. “That’s him.”

Bobby’s got a curious look on his face that’s way too familiar: his “oh shit, it’s the Winchesters again, what now” look. Sam climbs out, strides over to clasp Bobby’s callused hand. “Good to see you, Bobby.”

“Sam, what the hell brings you all the way out here? Weren’t you boys in Seattle, someplace?”

Sam nods. “Yeah, just –“ He glances over at the car, sees blond hair still inside. “Hang on.”

Around the side of the car, Dean’s got the door open, but still sits, eyes round. Sam leans over to look at him. “Well, you wanted to go to Bobby’s. That’s Bobby. Come on, wanna meet him?”

Dean’s sweaty hand slips into Sam’s, and he walks slowly at his side, scuffing his sneakers in the dirt. Sam looks up and sees Bobby’s jaw sagging. “Yeah, um. Bobby? This is Dean.”

“Well, ain’t you a one.” Bobby’s voice is thick, and he takes his gimme cap off and scratches his forehead, grinning. “Come on over here, boy, lemme get a look at ya.”

Dean lets go of Sam’s hand and edges forward, stopping when Bobby hunkers down with a crackle of popping knees. “Good to meet you, Dean,” he says, holding out his hand. After a moment’s consideration Dean takes it, shakes it gravely.

Bobby’s answering grin is luminous.

“So, uh. Dean.” Sam waits until Dean casts a glance his way. “You wanted to talk to Uncle Bobby about something. You said it was important.”

“Me?” Bobby stands straight, sets his cap back on his head. “What’s it about?” he asks Sam.

“Got me, man, I’m just the chauffeur here. But he said it had to be today, said it was important. Right, Dean?”

Dean nods, lips clamped shut.

“Okay, then – what?”

Dean silently looks down.

“Oh, for God’s sa –“

“Well, tell you what.” Bobby pastes a smile on his face. “You boys been driving a good long while. How about we step inside, you can wet your whistles, and we’ll see if we can figure this out?”

Sam gives a short nod. “Yeah. Okay.”

Following Bobby, Sam places his hand on Dean’s narrow shoulder. “When we get inside you tell us what’s going on, Dean. Okay? Swear.”

“Okay.” He peers up at Sam. “Uncle Bobby’s really old,” he whispers.

“And he’s really busy, too, so let’s not waste his time, okay?”

“O-kay.”

Boots thumping on the porch boards, Bobby says, “Y’know, you coulda called me. Might have to go to the store, not sure I got much around here to eat.”

“No way, Bobby, that’s okay,” Sam says hastily, Dean’s hand firmly grasped. “We’ll figure this out and be out of your hair in no time.”

“Aw, no rush.” Bobby swings the door wide. “Come on in.”

Dean darts inside, slipping out of Sam’s grip like a bar of soap. “Dean,” Sam groans. “Sorry, Bobby, he’s kinda –“

“He’s Dean,” Bobby says, smiling gently. “S’all I gotta know.”

Sam steps over the threshold. “But seriously,” he says, glancing over his shoulder, “you don’t have to –“

“SURPRISE!”

Sam whirls, hand flying automatically to the gun he isn’t carrying. Mouth hanging open, while a couple of camera flashes go off and somebody laughs. It sounds like Dean.

He blinks and sees Pastor Jim, familiar face wreathed in a broad smile. “Happy birthday, Sam,” he says.

“Happy birthday!”

There are people here he hasn’t seen since before Stanford. There are people here he doesn’t think he’s EVER seen, but who are all grinning at him like they know him, and at the front, Dean, bouncing from one foot to the other, one hand gripping Pastor Jim’s coat and the other flailing around like a demented moth.

“YOU TOTALLY DIDN’T KNOW!” Dean crows, and jumps up and down about eight times. “YES! I SO GOT YOU! YES!”

“Surprise, Sam,” Bobby says at his side, and laughs, claps him on the back. “He got you good, son.”

Sam smiles weakly, shaking his head. “He totally did,” he says with wonder, and a little shock. “He totally did.”




“Naw, about two weeks ago I get this call,” Bobby says, after the supposedly nonexistent food has all been eaten and the gigantic cake mostly consumed. “This little kid, saying he’s Dean.”

“Oh my God,” Sam says, staring at him. “We never told you.”

“Naw, your old man did. Few months back. Told me what happened.”

“Oh.” Sam nods after a moment. “Okay.”

Pastor Jim clears his throat. “John wanted to make sure we were aware of the situation,” he says in his low, easy voice. “In case you ever needed a hand. You know how it is.”

Sam had thought he knew. Right now he’s not so sure.

“So anyway,” Bobby says, draping an arm around Dean’s shoulders and pulling him close, “This one says, ‘Hello, sir, you don’t know me but you know my dad, and my brother’s got this birthday coming up only I don’t know what to get him and I can’t have a party ‘cuz he doesn’t know nobody.’”

“ANYbody,” Dean says, one finger primly upraised.

Sam snorts beer out of his nose.

“So,” he says when he can talk, “you – DEAN put this all together?”

“Well, he had a little help.”

Joshua grins and shakes his head. “Man, all I got was this voice message saying, ‘Urgent, be at Bobby’s next Friday.’ Didn’t know what the hell was up.”

Sam casts a look around. Familiar faces, some not so familiar, hunters, families of hunters, a couple of people he knows but can’t place. People they helped? Dad helped?

“I.” He swallows with difficulty. “Don’t know what to say.”

Dean grins at him across the table. His teeth are still a little smeared with chocolate, and he has the remains of a milk mustache. “Say, ‘DEAN’S THE MOST AWESOMEST BROTHER EVER!’” he crows, and everyone laughs.

“Okay, okay.” Sam raises his hands, can’t help grinning. “Dean’s the most awesomest brother ever. You happy?”

Dean gives an enthusiastic nod. “Can I go play with the puppies now?”

“Sure, dude. Hey, wait a second.” He plucks up a clean napkin and reaches across the table to wipe Dean’s face. Dean wrinkles his nose and turns away, sliding down and galloping across the room to the door.

A hand grips Sam’s shoulder warmly. “You’re doing a great job with him, Sam,” Joshua says, smile fading into earnestness. “I’m glad he’s got you.”

Sam nods slowly. “He’s a great kid.”

“And a pretty good little brother, too,” Pastor Jim says softly.

“Yeah. Yeah, pretty good.”




Smiling girls, rosy boys,
Come and buy my little toys;
Monkeys made of gingerbread,
And sugar horses painted red.


END

Comments

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XD XD XD *has fit of absolute adoration and yay*

Hee! Thank you! :-D
God, I LOVE this 'verse. Don't ever stop writing it, please. I like that Dean is still a good brother to Sam no matter what age he is. Thanks for sharing!
I'm kinda sure it'll be really hard for me ever to leave it totally behind. *grin* Thank you!!
NO WAY!

I was so worried about Dean, thinking about how sick he sounded, how this could possibly tie in with the Little Boy Blue stuff, and then it was Dean being sneaky for the best possible reason, because he loves his Sammy.

Honey, I love this so much. Now THAT is how to do hurt/comfort!
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! So glad you liked it! ::does Dean's dance 'o joy::
YOU GOT ME GOOD TOO, Dean. Honestly, I had no idea what was wrong with Dean, and my jaw just dropped when the surprise party was revealed.

AWESOME. I love this verse so much, and I love what you've done with Sam as Dean's parent. I kind of feel bad for John, because in my head he'd want to look after Dean, do it right this time, but this is your party *g* and you sell John as an asshole so well that I really do buy it. Damn you and your clever writing.

Excellent story. What a fantastic birthday present.
Aw man, see -- this is one of those things, you NEVER know if you managed the surprise well enough until you start to see people's reactions. *yays*

Actually I kinda want to introduce John back into things, in some fashion. I don't mean to make him a TOTAL asshole. Just doing the same sorts of things with Dean as an eight-year-old that he did -- well, in season one, you know? :-/ But I really would like to have him come in somewhere.

Thank you, honey! *hugs*
Yay! Thank you very much!! :-D
Awwww. What a lovely birthday present!
Aw, thank you! I appreciate it! :-D
Me too -- I can't seem to let it go. *HUGS* Thank you honey!
You know, I was rereading all of "Gone" today -- oh my HEART -- and STILL thinking about Jo and lil!Dean. I can't help it! It's stuck in my brain.

I really, really want John to re-enter the equation. Hmmm.

*HUGS* Thanks, honey!
Really, really well done! I was so worried about Dean at first, then sure that it was just some horribly disturbing/embarrassing pre-puberty sort of thing that was troubling him, and then SURPRISE!

Dean, at any age, is an awesome brother.
Aw man, I'm so glad it surprised you!! Thank you!! :-D
OMGHAYSTACK'VERSEYAY!!!


OH Dean. He really is the most awesome brother, little or big! And I adore the fact that Sam seriously just drove to South Dakota because Dean needed it right now.

BOYS. *smishes them*
*laughing* That is a SERIOUS drive, yes! Thank you so much!! *hugs*
*sigh* i luuurve this verse.
*beams* Thank you!! :-D
Awww - I missed this story and little Dean.

Sam is the most awesomest brother ever.
I missed this verse -- it's ridiculous how much I enjoy this version of the boys. And thank you!! :-D
Even as the little brother, Dean's still the awesomest brother ever. :)

I love this verse and love reading this little snippet. What an awesome birthday present. :)

THank you!! :-D I appreciate it!
This was great! Just...you've got little Dean down pat. The Spiderman costume and "YES! I SO GOT YOU! YES" were right on the button. But Dean correcting Bobby's grammar...that was priceless!
I snickered out loud at the grammar fix, yes. *grin* Thank you!!
I LOVE it!!!

:-) So adorable, definitely put a smile on my face!

not the birthday girl, but thanks!
Aw, thank you, honey! :-D
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