“Sam! Sam, get in here and . . . and set the table,” Dean called from the kitchen where he was stirring the contents of the pan on the stove. He was tired, he’d been trying to keep everything together while Dad was gone and it was getting to him. He’d not skipped out on school, despite the temptation to just stay home and rest. Dad had taken him to see some doctor before he’d left, lucky really. He’d diagnosed a chest infection and prescribed a set of antibiotics, said that as long as Dean was careful and got plenty of extra rest, he wouldn’t need to be off school.
Dean figured the doctor probably hadn’t realized what that meant in Dean’s life. Dad had left with strict instructions, stay in school, don’t draw attention to yourself, look after Sam and make sure he has everything he needs. Like any of that was as simple as Dad’s words implied.
Dean had dragged himself into school every day, with his assignments completed on time. This school was too hot on calling parents when their pupils didn’t turn up or turn in assignments. In a different life, Dean figured it would have been a great school in a way. . . the teachers were actually interested in their jobs, actually wanted the kids to do well, were quick to offer help. In the couple of months they’d been there, Dean had actually gone some way to catching up on the stuff he’d missed out on in all their moves. He’d started to actually want to do well again.
It felt like it had been so long since he felt like that; Pastor Jim and Bobby were always telling him how important school was, how he had to keep trying to do his best, how they’d help . . . He knew they meant well, knew that in their own way they would help however they could, but this . . . this was reality. Reality was being stuck in a damp, dank apartment on the opposite side of the country to their offered help with Dad away, fighting a chest infection, trying to stay on top of school work, Dad’s training, Sam, Sam’s homework, house stuff like laundry and cooking and shopping and . . . and money. Dean had had to figure out a way to get some extra cash, odd jobbing for the neighbors in exchange for cash. Dad’s money never lasted long enough these days, Jim and Bobby both knew that, Caleb too . . . why else would the three men be slipping him envelopes with cash in to hide in his duffle ‘just in case’ he ever needed it. ‘Just in case’ . . . Dean knew he could call them, knew any one of them would have headed out for him and Sammy but he couldn’t bring himself to do it.
Sammy still hadn’t appeared so Dean called again, “Sammy, get your ass in . . .” He broke off short, coughing, gasping for air again. If nothing else, it served to get Sam’s attention and the eight year old bounded into the kitchen, worry etched all over his face as he looked at his brother struggling to breathe. Dean gradually got control of his breathing, standing up and looking at his brother through watery eyes. He winked and croaked, “Knew that’d get you in here. . .”
Sam pouted, “Don’t be an ass, Dean. You shouldn’t still be coughing like that. The pills Dad left from the doctor were supposed to fix it. Have you been taking them properly?”
“Yes, Mom!” Dean saw the genuine concern in his brother’s eyes, the real fear that if Dean really was sick then there’d be real trouble with Dad away. Dean knew Sam had pleaded with Dad not to go until he was better, the compromise had been the trip to the doctor’s and for once Dean was really grateful to his little brother, because much as he felt like death now, without the trip to the docs he knew he’d have been a whole lot worse. He sighed and wondered whether he should give in and call Pastor Jim, not sure how much longer he could cope.
“When’s Dad coming back, Dean? He said he was only gonna be a couple of days. Shouldn’t he be back by now?”
“Soon, Sammy, he’ll be back soon. Now have you done your homework yet?”
Sam sighed, “It’s Sam, not Sammy and that is what I was doing. I’ve got to write a monster story!”
Dean laughed, “A monster story! Sammy, dude! That should be so easy for you, dude, it’s like a gift!”
“No, Dean, I’m not going to cheat, it’s got to be fiction, that means made up and it’s got to be made up by me, so it can’t be a story you’ve told me.” Dean smiled, Sam may not make his life easy, but god he loved his little brother, the kid was a gift, smart like Dean only wished he could be himself. There was so much about Sam that made him a good kid, Dean was proud of how well his little brother did in school and sure the kid was a bit geeky, but he was cool too. He’d seen some of the other kids in Sam’s class and he was definitely grateful that it was Sam he got to look after and not some of the other whiny eight year olds.
“So you got a plan for it?” Dean asked as he served the pasta and sauce onto their plates.
“I’ve got most of it written,” Sam said as he laid knives and forks on to the table and poured two glasses of milk. He looked at the plates as his brother set them down on the table with a frown, before looking up at Dean.
Dean caught his eye and immediately said, “I’m sorry Sam, I didn’t get time to go shopping, I know you don’t much like this sauce, but I’d . . .”
“Stop it, Dean. This . . . this is okay, it’s not that.” Sam paused and thought for a moment before he said anything more. “Dean, you’ve not put much on your plate . . . are we really short of money again?”
“No, Sam, it’s not that, there’s plenty in the pan, enough for Dad if he gets back, more if you want some too . . . I’m just not that hungry tonight.”
Sam sighed, “You’re sick. You should stay home from school tomorrow, rest.”
Dean shook his head, choking back another round of coughing before standing and moving to get another glass and turning on the tap to fill it. Sitting down again, he sipped at the water before attempting to reply to his brother’s suggestion, “I know what you’re saying, but I can’t, not with Dad away. They phone home straight away, when they can’t get an answer from Dad, someone will come round here and then there’ll be real trouble. There is a reason why that school has the highest attendance record in the area.”
“It’s not fair, Dean. Dad shouldn’t have put you in this position, he knew you were ill.”
Dean wanted to agree with his brother, wanted to just give in, curl up and admit to someone that he really did feel like shit and he wasn’t convinced the antibiotics were working. He pushed his plate away, the food barely touched. “Sammy . . .” he started, but really he’d got nothing new to say. He just closed his eyes and let his head rest on his arms, the clink of his brother’s cutlery reassuring in the background as his mind wandered away from his responsibilities as he rested for a while.
Sam watched Dean’s eyes close, saw as he drifted into an uneasy slumber. He finished eating the pasta on his plate, not his favorite but nothing the matter with it, nothing except the fact that it was his brother who’d made it for him again, his brother who was sick and should be in bed resting with someone looking after him. With his dinner finished, Sam silently cleared up the remains of the meal and tidied up round Dean without disturbing him.
Sam fetched his homework from where he’d been working earlier and sat back down opposite his brother to continue with his writing and drawing. Dean had been coughing so much in the last few days, he’d not had much sleep and now he’d fallen asleep, Sam didn’t want to wake him.
Sam sat back and stretched half an hour later before pushing back from the table and moving round to wake Dean, “Come on, Dean. I know you won’t even think about going to bed til you’ve done some of your homework, so you better wake up now.”
Dean sat up, blinking the sleep from his eyes, before apologizing and offering help with Sam’s homework. With Sam’s reassurance that all was fine, Dean pushed back from the table ready to stand and do the clearing up, only to find it already done. He turned back to Sam who was already shrugging it off and saying he could help, wasn’t like he was a baby after all.
The two boys chatted for a while about their respective days at school as they both continued with their assignments. After a while Dean threw his pen down and moved round the table to be closer to where his younger brother was trying to work. Dean recognized Sam’s ‘struggling’ face and smiled at him to relieve the tension, before leaning in and looking to see what he was working on. He was reassured when he saw it was some Math work that he understood, knowing that he could help, he hated the times when he wasn’t confident in whatever he was trying to explain, dreading the day Sam realized how many times Dean had had to have extra classes or ‘support’ in the past.
Even worse though would be the day, Sam was targeted for extra help because he couldn’t keep up in class. Dean knew it would knock his brother’s already fragile confidence. Sam wasn’t stupid, but continually moving meant he always had to work harder to fit in to the routine and to know what was expected of him. It made it harder because they hardly ever got to study things from beginning to end, some stuff they’d repeated in more than one school and others they’d ended up missing altogether. Sam found it hard to make friends, to not stand out, Dean was resigned to a life with no real school friends, had learnt to make himself the cool kid by being the outsider, didn’t mean he really liked it, but it got him by.
Dean was trying to make sure Sam could keep up with his classmates, trying to make sure that he helped Sam learn anything he’d missed, but Sam was clever . . . Dean was sure that Sam knew stuff he’d never even heard of. “How about you tell me what you think you’ve got to do? Talk me through it and I’ll see how you’re getting on and help if you get stuck?” he said encouragingly.
Sam nodded, tension visibly easing from his shoulders, frown vanishing from his forehead, as he began to talk through what he was working on. Dean nodded, adding words of reassurance, clarifying the bits that Sam seemed least confident on and it didn’t take long for the homework to be finished and for Sam to be happy again.
“So how’s the scary monster story going?” Dean prompted next.
Sam beamed at him. “I’ve almost finished!” he said enthusiastically. “Would you have time to read it later?”
“Course I would,” Dean smiled back.
“You’ll look for the stuff I need to work on, right? You know punctuation and stuff?”
Dean nodded, checking his watch for the time. “So you’ve got ten minutes to finish it, then you’ve got to get ready for bed, thirty minutes TV and then that’s it for you, Buster!” he laughed.
Sam nodded and pulled his story back over to him, immediately starting to write. Dean was grateful that Sam was behaving so well. It wasn’t that he was bad normally, but like any other kid his age he’d push at his boundaries, trying to stay up late, get away without doing his training, the usual.
Sam was in bed, Dean had a feeling he was reading and not sleeping but he didn’t mind, just relieved to have a few minutes to himself. He pushed the last of his books to one side, deciding that he’d done enough for one evening. He packed his school bag, then picked up Sam’s story and an extra piece of paper and pen before heading to sit on the couch in front of the TV to relax while he read it through.
Bunnies Gone Bad Dean smirked at the title and picture on the first piece of paper. ‘Mutant bunnies’ he liked that idea. Opening up, he began to read.
Once out in the distant prairie, there landed a tiny, tiny bit of a meteor. Too smoll for the eye to see but big enuf to cause truble. It carried a bug.
The bug decided it liked rabbits’ blood and so it began too bite all the rabbits in the area. It was strange thow. The rabbits didn’t die from the bug bite, insted they grew and grew and grew until they were huge, big, enormous bunnies!
Once they were big, they got angry, real angry. You want to know why? They got angry cos they didn’t fit in their homes no more. So they had to go looking for new homes.
The bunnies hopped and hopped for miles and miles across the distant prairie until they reached a big city, like New York, if it’s near a prairie where rabbits like living. The bunnies were more angry now, because they had hopped and hopped for so far that they were tired and grumpy as well as too big for their homes. And now they were really hungry to.
So the bunnies hopped into the city, they hopped onto cars and sqwashed them, they hopped onto people and flatted them then ate them, and then they moved into the nice apartments and lived there happily ever after and forgot all about the bug that eated bunnies’ blood.
The bug died because all the bunnies got big and hopped away so it starved to death out in the middle of the distant prairie.
Dean smiled. It was a good idea for a story, but Sam just jumped all the really good bits and ran them together. He started off with his piece of paper and wrote at the top, “Things to Look For”. Below it he wrote a list of spellings, not all of the words he could see that were wrong but the ones that he thought mattered most. Then he tried to write an explanation of too. “If to means as well then it is double o – too – like they did it too! If to means going ‘to’ do something or ‘to’ somewhere then it only needs one o – to – like I am going to the White House to see the President.”
He read through the story once more and added a few more notes about areas that Sam could expand, before setting all of the papers back on the kitchen table again ready for the morning. Pushing back his chair, he stood wearily. He was tired from the constant coughing. He checked his watch and decided it was late enough to take the last of the day’s antibiotics and then he could head to bed and try to rest for a while.
Dean was asleep, all the lights in the apartment out, when John got home. He let himself into the apartment, irritated at the silence within. He looked at his watch, past Sam’s bedtime but Dean should have still been up. John frowned at the thought that perhaps Dean had gone out, leaving Sam unprotected. He’d be sorry if he had, John reflected. He winced as he moved, it had been a hard hunt and he needed help getting patched up now. One thing he most definitely didn’t need was to be chasing after an obnoxious pre-teen with growing attitude. He sighed, flicking on lights as he moved.
Reaching the boys’ room, he was surprised to see by the light from the hallway that both boys were asleep in their beds. Small mercies, he figured, stepping into the room and moving across to wake Dean. As he approached, he heard Dean cough and shift awkwardly in his sleep. He shook his head in frustration, he’d taken him to the doctor before he’d left, got him antibiotics and listening to him now, it sounded like it had been a waste of time, sounded like Dean hadn’t bothered following the instructions. He resisted the urge to shake Dean awake in annoyance, instead gruffly whispering, “Dean, get up,” leaning over to give a gentle shake to wake him.
Dean woke instantly, jerking upright, knife pulled from below his pillow, pulling himself up short before slashing at his father. “Geez, Dad! Way to get yourself stabbed!” he croaked hoarsely.
“Get up, get dressed. I’ll see you in the kitchen in five!” John grunted, immediately moving away.
Dean sighed, pushing himself out of bed, trying to hold back the urge to cough, at least until he was dressed and out of the room so he didn’t wake Sammy. He rubbed his hand over his eyes, leaning one hand against the wall to steady himself as his head swam dizzily. He grabbed a hoodie, pulling it on as he left the room and headed for the kitchen.
John walked into the kitchen, looking round, pleased to see everything reasonably tidy. He saw the pan on the top of the stove and lifting the lid nodded in approval at the sight of the pasta within. He turned the heat on below the pan before sitting down cautiously at the table.
He picked up the folded booklet he found there and started to read, Bunnies go bad He noticed a second sheet of paper slip out with a list of suggested corrections and improvements and sighed, bringing a hand up to rub at his temple. He looked up eyes meeting Dean as his eldest son appeared at the door.
John looked him over appraisingly, taking in the almost grey complexion, the bags below his eyes and the weary tilt to his shoulders. “What’s the matter with you?” he asked gruffly.
“Nothing,” Dean murmured, “I’m sorry.”
John sighed, he wasn’t in the mood for drawn out conversations teasing the information out of Dean. “You look like shit, what’s the matter with you?”
“I’m tired, I’ve not been sleeping great because of the cough and everything,” Dean admitted. “You want dinner. There’s plenty of pasta left from what I cooked for Sam. I can heat it up for you.”
“It’s on already. I need you to clean up this gash on my back. Get the first aid kit and get going. Then you can go back to bed.
“Yes sir,” Dean answered, immediately moving to do as he’d been told. John watched his every move. Dean gathered the supplies and then bent down behind his father, trying to hold back the urge to cough and keep it under control.
“What’s with the coughing?” John asked, despite Dean’s best effort to hide it. Dean shut his eyes for a moment, before opening them and reaching for the clean cloths he’d got and dipping one in water to start cleaning up the area around the wound. “I’m waiting for an answer, Dean.”
“It just hasn’t gone. I’ve been taking the stuff from the doctor, but it hasn’t really cleared up.” Dean worked swiftly, trying to withstand the tremor in his hands, not sure whether it was there because he was so tired or because his Dad was clearly not happy about something.
“You getting special classes again?” John asked abruptly, irritation clear.
“N-no, Dad, no I’m not. I’m working hard . . . honestly,” Dean stammered. Dean felt as his eyes filled with tears and tried to blink them away. It was frustration he knew that, frustration combined with how sick he was feeling and how hard he’d been trying and this desire in the pit of his stomach that once, just once his Dad would recognize how hard he was trying.
“I told you not to draw attention to yourself. We don’t need the trouble.”
“Dad, I’m not, I swear. I’m doing okay! I promise, all my assignments have been in on time, all my . . .”
“What’s this then?” John turned abruptly, leaving Dean holding the dressing he’d been about to stick over the gash on his Dad’s back, wide-eyed and vulnerable on his knees below his Dad. “What the fuck is this?” John waved the folded papers at him in annoyance.
Dean’s eyes tracked the paper, trying to work out what it was, suddenly realizing it was Sammy’s homework. “It’s Sam’s, Sam’s homework. He had to write a story for homework, make it into a book with illustrations and stuff!” Dean said desperately.
“What?” John snapped.
“It’s Sammy’s homework, Dad, please. It’s good, it’s Sammy’s,” Dean pleaded.
“Sam’s!” John grunted. He turned back to the table without another word and Dean sat for a moment unsure whether he should start attaching the dressing again. “Are you going to finish that or what?”
“Yes sir!” Dean murmured, quickly attaching the dressing before turning away to start coughing again. He stood up to fetch a glass of water, trying to drink it, but instead choking worse as the cough exploded again just as he was trying to swallow. He clung on to the counter as he gasped for breath, relieved when his Dad moved behind him, patting his back, then rubbing it, trying to ease him back into breathing normally. He let John guide him back into sitting at the table, where he slumped exhausted.
“You sure you’ve been taking those pills?”
“Yes sir,” he nodded, throat sore and voice croaking. His head dropped further in shame as he saw his Dad’s frown.
“Why didn’t you tell me Sammy was struggling at school?” John suddenly asked. Dean’s posture straightened, eyes wide in shock. “Why weren’t you looking out for your brother properly?”
“I – I –“ Dean stammered. He took a breath trying to collect his thoughts enough to answer but instead the breath caught and he began to cough again. Suddenly there was a noise behind him in the doorway, Dean twisted to see Sam standing there, looking at him worry clear in his eyes.
“You okay, Dean?” Sam’s voice was tentative. “Dad? Dean’s been real sick. He’s done what the doctor said, Dad, but he’s not getting better. I told him he should stay home, but he wouldn’t, ‘cos you weren’t here and he was worried in case the school called and wanted to talk to you.”
“Is that true, Dean?”
“Yes sir,” Dean said quietly. John stood awkwardly aware of the just dressed wound on his back and moved round the table to rest a hand against Dean’s forehead, aware of the heat poring off his son.
“You taken your temperature? Taken anything for it?”
“No sir and just the stuff from the doctor,” Dean said quietly.
John pulled the first aid kit closer, fishing out the pack of Tylenol, popping a couple of tablets free and handing them over. “Take those. Why didn’t you take anything before?”
“I was taking the stuff from the doctor.” John was reminded how young Dean was really, how much he’d impressed upon him not to take stuff without being sure of what he was doing. John had told him to take the stuff from the doctor and so that was what he’d done.
“I told him to call Pastor Jim,” Sam said. “He’s really sick; he needed someone to look after him.” John watched as Sam glared at him, reminded vividly of the argument before he’d left, the argument with his youngest son that was the only reason he’d taken Dean to the doctor in the first place. He sighed and looked back at Dean who was trying to get his brother to shut up. Just like before, John realized.
“So . . . you didn’t call Jim then?” he asked.
“No sir, figured you’d be back soon. Didn’t need to bother anyone unnecessarily.” John nodded, not sure whether Dean had made the right call or not, although he was relieved he hadn’t called Jim, he didn’t need another lecture on bad parenting from Jim or Bobby. John watched as Dean pushed himself up and moved across to the pan on the stove, saw as the boy’s shoulders dropped and as his hand came up to wipe at his eyes. “I’m sorry,” Dean suddenly said, lifting the pan away from the heat and turning back. “It’s burnt, you – you can’t eat it now!”
John was struck by just how wiped out Dean looked, how overly upset he was by the situation and he moved round to wrap his arm around his son. If Mary had been alive, he would never have let his twelve year old suffer like this. He pulled Dean closer in, felt as Dean began to sob quietly against his chest and stroked his hand through his son’s hair. “I’m here, Dean. It’s going to be okay. Come on let’s get you back to bed.” Without letting go of his son, he led him back to bed, tucking him in and sending Sam to the bathroom for the eucalyptus oil. When Sam reappeared, small bottle in his hand, John took it, sprinkling drops on tissues and placing a couple on either side of his son before setting the bottle on the bedside table and running his hand through Dean’s hair again, watching as he closed his eyes and tried to rest. “Just rest, son. We’ll keep you off school tomorrow, and I’ll maybe take you back to see that doctor again, see if he can give us something to help you get rid of this.”
“Sorry,” Dean murmured. John didn’t answer just rubbed Dean’s back for a while in the hope he would fall asleep.
John left the room after about five minutes, heading back to the kitchen to find Sam sitting chewing on a pencil and looking at the booklet from earlier. “What are you doing, Sammy? It’s past your bedtime.”
“I thought you were talking to Dean, I thought you were going to tell him stuff to cheer him up. I thought maybe you’d need me out of the way so you could that.”
“What do you mean?” John looked at his son, completely baffled by what he was saying.
“Dean thinks you’re always unhappy with him. He works real hard to try and make you pleased with him, but you don’t say anything. I thought maybe you might today, cos he’s worked so hard, even though he was ill, to make sure he didn’t let you down.”
“Is that what you think?” John was struck by how outspoken his youngest son was. “So as you’re up, what have you got to tell me about this?” John gestured at the booklet Sam had been working on.
“It’s a story, Dean liked it. We had to write a fictional monster story that we made up on our own.” Sam explained, looking more hesitant as he added again, “Dean liked it. He said I was good.”
John nodded, “So what’s this?” He dropped the page of suggestions onto the table between them, almost like an accusation but he was struck by the incomprehension on the eight year old’s face. “Who wrote this?”
“Dean,” Sam said, confusion clear. “I wanted to get a good grade, so Dean said he’d look it over and give me some suggestions. He did it for me tonight even though he was feeling sick.”
“These are Dean’s suggestions,” John raised his eyebrows in disbelief.
“Yeah, Dean always helps me with my homework. He’s good at explaining stuff. I was stuck on my Math earlier and he helped me with that too.”
John was reminded yet again of how little time he spent with his sons. How did he not know that Dean helped Sam with his homework? How did he not know that Sam needed or even wanted help with his homework? When had his sons become so self-sufficient that it was only when Dean was ill that they actually needed him?
“You should go to bed, get some rest before you get sick too,” he said to Sam, picking the story back up. “Go, now! I’ll see you in the morning.” Sam sighed and pushed back from the table, wishing his father a good night, before fetching a glass of water, explaining it was to put beside Dean’s bed and taking it with him into the bedroom.
With the boys gone and the house quiet again, John picked up the story and started to read it again. He then read Dean’s comments, struck again by how close his boys were, how much they looked out for each other.
He needed to take a leaf out of their book. He wasn’t sure how it had come about, but he was glad the boys were so close, did look out for each other. He hoped it lasted, hoped that something good and strong could come out of the mess that was their lives.
Author’s Notes – here’s hoping you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading. x
Title : Bunnies Gone Bad!
Author : morning_sunlite
Rating : PG
Characters: Dean, Sam and John
Genre : Gen, preseries
Disclaimer : Neither the Winchesters nor Supernatural in anyway belong to me and I make no profit from this endeavour
Prompt Number: 58 at found-fic-spn comm. on livejournal.
Word count : approx 5000.
Thanks to soledadseraph for looking this over for me *hugs*