“This is John Winchester. I can't be reached. If this is an emergency, call my son Dean: 866-907-3235. He can help.”
Dean rubbed his face in irritation as he heard the voicemail repeat its message to him for what was probably the hundredth time. Ever since he found out about it a few weeks back from Jerry Panowski, the airport controller, he dialed it up again and again. He kept hearing his dad’s voice, but he never heard him say a word. Dad was just gone, leaving Dean with this stupid message that told him absolutely nothing. He pressed the cancel button, knowing leaving a message of his own would be redundant.
"Son of a bitch. Ever thought of answering your frigging phone," he murmured to no one in particular. He shoved the cell phone back in his pocket and grumbled angrily about his absentee father who wouldn't even say hello. He fell back into the car seat grumpily.
The seat did nothing to relax Dean. Calling his Dad early in the morning didn't seem to be yielding any results, and waking up so damn early was really a bad idea. But his plan relied on it. Sam had already been up when he had left to go to the shops. His health nut of a brother had probably gone out jogging or done something else stupid like that. 9 in the morning was way too early to do anything, and Dean seriously was contemplating how he and Sam were related. Dean exited the Impala, and strode towards his motel room.
Dean came through the door, plastic bags in his hands. As he had thought, Sam was still gone. Had fun could jogging be, really. He dumped the bags on the small round table and began to take the contents out of two of them, the third cast aside from the process. It was smaller, opaque, like a plastic purse bag. He hid it on the chair furthest from the door. Dean was interrupted by his brother returning from wherever he had been, which turned out not to be jogging, given the casual clothes he was wearing and the lack of any ridiculous sweat bands or whatever. He too had a plastic bag in his hands, clinking of bottles audible from within. Sam turned his gaze to Dean, his mouth quirking, causing his dimples to appear. He placed his bag on the table, beside Dean's. If he noticed the other bags, he made no comment about it. He raised his eyebrows at Dean.
"You're up. That's a surprise. What, didn't get a lady last night to keep you company?"
Dean let out a less than amused laugh.
"Shuddup. Not like you got any last night."
"Dude, your comebacks are terrible. Anyway, I think I got something."
"Yeah. Saw it in the paper when I went to the corner store. Got us some beer while I was there."
Dean nodded appreciatively, his lips jutting out as he did.
"So?....Salt and burn? Demon? Some fugly monster?"
"Pretty sure it's just a salt and burn. Don't know, but from what the newspaper said, it sounds exactly like a haunting. I'll have to look into it a little more, but we’ve definitely got a case here. "
A smug look bloomed on Dean's face.
"Are you sure it isn't a case looking into how there must be some supernatural reason that you're such a giant nerd?"
Sam gave his best impression of a unimpressed teenage girl.
"You know it's true, Sammy."
"It's Sam," he replied, weary frustration heavy in his tone, "anyway, we should go question the victims." He pulled today's newspaper out his bag and began to read the column. "Yeah, they’re not too far away. Let's go."
Dean held up placating hands as his younger brother got ready to head to the door, causing the other to stop and give him a confused look. Dean shook his head.
"No, dude, we can't. Not today."
"Sam, do you really have no idea what today is?"
"Umm, Sunday?....What's today got to do with anything?"
Dean chuckled, shaking his head in a way that translated to 'how can you be so smart and so oblivious sometimes'. Sam just looked at Dean blankly until the latter finally divulged it to him.
"Sam. It's Christmas Day!"
Sam didn't look the least bit perturbed.
Dean looked absolutely horrified, head retreating backwards as he squinted at his brother.
"What do you mean 'so'?! Christmas, Sam, doesn't that mean anything to you?"
"Not particularly, no,” Sam answered easily. He continued when his brother gave him a incredulous look. “Never really been that awesome, Dean."
Dean let that sink in. Sam disliked Christmas. What the hell? Nope, nope, this would not do. Sighing dramatically at Sam's lack of Christmas spirit, he returned to unpacking his bags whilst his brother unpacked his own. Various bottles of beer formed by the brothers’ twin instincts were now on the table, along with packets of food. Dean took on the expression of childlike happiness that good food always gave him.
"We're having a Christmas feast!"
"Really?” Sam said exasperatedly. “Is this why you got all this food? Seriously, dude, just let me have a beer."
Sam went to take one of the beers but a hand snapped at his own. Dean smiled evilly.
"You'll just have to wait Sam. Let me set everything up first."
“I’m not having a Christmas feast,” Sam stated, crossing his arms.
“Wasn’t a option. We’re doing it.”
Sam mouth turned into a despondent frown and he let out a frustrated breath, but said nothing more about it, finally giving up on the useless squabble. Dean arranged the items on the table, ignoring his younger brother's pouting. Soon, the small table was covered with a small feast: bottles of beer, shop-heated chips and gravy, a small pudding, and salad for Sam the Brachiosaurus. Dean eyed the green stuff suspiciously, like it would suddenly go all Frankenstein on him and attack. A space was left on the table for the container of sliced ham that was in his hand, the box clearly stating that it could be microwaved. There was nothing particularly special on the table but it would do.
Dean went to heat up the ham for the 'Christmas feast', which was as much a feast as a ostrich was a eagle. Christmas had never been the same after his Mom died, and his Dad had pretty much spent the next 22 years after her death being a full-time vagabond that killed monsters, bringing Dean and Sam along for the tumultuous ride. The last real Christmas he remembered was the one before Sam was born. It was blurry, like looking at a memory through an unfocused camera.
Mum had made a chicken pie (though Dean didn't seem to recall when exactly she made it; it was just kind of there, as if she had just bought it and heated it up, which of course she wouldn't do). Dad had been on his best behaviour that day. There was a Christmas tree in his memories too. If it was an actual tree or not, Dean couldn't remember. Tinsel and lights had encompassed it, baubles scattered around its branches. And on top, one of the clearest things in his memory, was a white angel with fragile, papery wings, high up in its faux heaven, watching over the three beings celebrating Christmas within the house, and the fourth who lay dormant. The words his Mom often said lingered in his mind when he thought of it. Angels are watching over you. He didn’t believe in all that crap, but it was a nice sentiment.
Dean couldn't remember the presents or the weather or anything save for those things. Mum, Dad, pie and a decorated Christmas tree with an angel at the top. Bet any other adult his age had awesome stories of Christmas in their youth, filled with bitten cookies and drunken milk, presents from Santa and other magical Christmas moments. Unfortunately, it's not a gift of childhood everyone could have. He was happy with the one good memory he had, though he wouldn't mind making a few more.
A ding echoed out in the small motel room, bringing him back into the real world. The microwave had done its job. Dean held the container cautiously as he carried it over and placed it in its allocated spot. Steam cascaded out from it in lazy swirls.
"Christmas breakfast served."
"Wow, Dean, you truly are a excellent chef," sarcasm dripping thick like maple syrup on Sam's words. Dean's jaw tightened, providing a displeased glare as response. It was far from heated, and it didn’t last, with the older Winchester soon returning to smiling at his little brother.
They ate the mediocre meal, talking about a range of subjects.Mostly, they talked of ordinary stuff, like people usually did a Christmas. They weren’t normal people, but they could pretend for a bit.
Once the main meal was finished, the pudding was heated up and eaten as well, the breakfast dessert causing Dean to moan like he was having a sexual experience with it, much to his brother's disgust. The feast was soon nothingness, all but some of the salad remaining, it alone saved from Dean’s ravenous hunger. Dean shrugged.
"Not my best meal, but, hey, it was good. You know, for our first real Christmas feast together. Though….I wish Dad could be here. You know, have a proper family dinner."
Dean didn’t miss Sam’s expression darkening at his words. For a moment, he thought an argument was about to occur, and he slouched with displeasure. But then, Sam stopped himself. Dean saw the anger fade away like smoke in the wind. Sam shook his head. He leaned forward and lifted the plastic bag that Dean had tried to hide from him onto the table, effectively changing the topic.
"What's in this, Dean. Your skin mags or something. Don't have to hide them, man; it isn't exactly a secret."
Dean let out an amused chuckle.
"For once, no, they're not. It's Christmas, Sam. What do you think is in there?"
A knowing smirk.
"Are you saying you went shopping for presents? By choice?"
"Ha Ha,” Dean intoned. “Do you want it or not?"
Sam raised his hands in surrender.
"Okay, okay, I'll shut up."
He delved into the bag, trying to keep his eyes closed so it was a surprise, yet peering through his lashing like he thought Dean might’ve put a bear trap in their for some laughs. Dean smiled fondly as he watched Sam pull out the gun he brought him. It was a Taurus Model PT92, polished and regal. It's insert grip was pearl white and the barrel was engraved with elegant scrawling lines. Sam looked at Dean with stunned gratefulness. Dean grinned at his brother's reaction.
"There's some ammunition in the bag too."
Sam smiled a floppy grin, placing the gun and the bag on the table. He glanced to his duffel, before returning his eyes to Dean.
"Well, I sort of got you something too. It was for your birthday but hey, if you want to celebrate Christmas, might as well give it to you now."
Sam got up and walked to his bag. He rustled inside and perking up when he found what he was looking for. He lifted up a small, oddly wrapped gift, and wandered back to the table, passing it to Dean. The Older Winchester glared at it suspiciously, wondering what the strange gift could be. It was freaking tiny, so it nothing awesome like a knife or a guitar. He had no clue what it could be. Well, he wouldn’t know unless he opened it. He dug his nails into the paper and pulled. When Dean had pried the wrapping paper off, he was given the opportunity to flaunt his own bitch face. In his hand, a miniature Chevy Impala lay on the palm, sleek and black like it's larger cousin.
A shrug and a smile from the younger Winchester.
Dean put it on the table and nodded in sarcastic approval.
"Ah, yeah, thanks. It's the thought that counts. Next year, maybe get an actual present."
"Yeah. I promise....Next year...wait..."
Sam paused, features scrunching up in fierce concentration like some puzzling thought had starting buzzing in his head, not easing up until realization bled through.
"I see what your doing, Dean. You're making me have a valid reason to celebrate Christmas next year.”
“Guilty as charged.”
Sam huffed, throwing up his arms.
“Fine, fine! next year. This was your plan all along, wasn’t it?"
Dean looked at him with the 'what, no, of course not' face. Mentally, he was fist pumping the air. His plan, weeks in the making, had worked; Sam promised to get him a gift, which would mean another Christmas to share with his brother. Even if Sam wasn't hunting by Christmas time next year, it'd be fun to enjoy a holiday they both had so few of, the few being mediocre at best. John Winchester didn't exactly splurge on them when they were younger.
After the feast, the day went fast. The brothers' Christmas, save for the morning feast, was just like any other day. Research, banter, more research, and a few excerpts of Christmas movies that played on the crappy motel tv.
The younger brother turned in just after sunset, tired from his early start. Dean stayed at the edge of his bed, phone grasped in hand. He waited till Sam was sleeping as deeply as a hunter could, before he turned it on and clicked through his contacts.
He pressed John's number, and the phone began to ring. Just like before, the recorded voice of his father answered him. This time, when the chance to leave a message came about, he took it.
"Hey. It's Dean. The son who has left you a freak tonne of messages. Y'know, I really wish you would answer. Just once. That’s all I would need. Anyway....I just…... I guess I just wanted to say...Merry Christmas, Dad. Hope you get this..."
He pressed the end button. His dad probably wouldn't even listen to it. But he let it be sent. Might as well. Just like he said to Sam, it was the thought that counted. Dad might never reply, but at least he would know Dean was thinking of him on Christmas. Dean threw the phone onto the end table and fell onto the bed, weary and spent despite the relatively peaceful day. Emotional crap was tiring. He let out a hard breath, letting himself relax, even if only a little. He placed his head onto the pillow, and wrapped himself in the comforter, getting as snug as possible. Sleep eventually persuaded him into oblivion, and soon he was softly snoring the late hours away.
And thus ended the first day of Christmas.