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Apparently, what inspires most of my SPN short fic is tiny details in the script which get under my skin. Today was one of those days.

Title: Toast
Rating: Gen. Suitable for all.
Characters: Sam Winchester, Dean Winchester, John Winchester
Description: Weechesters. Fast-written ficlet inspired by a post on Tumblr by
wondering what past events led to Sam's comment about John which Dean doesn't defend, "the man can't work a toaster".
Warnings: traumatized Dean, angst
Length: ~1K
Disclaimer: This is all fiction folks. Neither the boys or their world belong to me. I'm playing for fun, not profit.

***

A thin wisp of smoke escapes from their motel window and curls in the miserable, damp air. Blaring klaxons hurt his ears. Dean watches, among chaos and strangers, frozen to this spot of blacktop in a dingy motel parking lot. He’s torn between the need to follow the rules and the fear of being separated from his father. “It's a fire drill. Go wait in the parking lot Dean. Take Sammy with you. I’ll join you in a moment.”

He hugs his sleepily silent little brother into his side. He watches as raindrops gather on Sammy’s unruly hair and start to drip onto his neck. It’s cold and he’s wearing Dean’s hand downs - slightly too large and well worn pajamas. He should get Sam somewhere warm but dad’s got the impala keys and he’s been told to wait here.

He can hear his dad cursing inside their room and see the shadow of him energetically waving a towel. Suddenly, an orange flame curls in the corner of the towel and flickers, catches on the curtains. His dad curses harder, bad words which shouldn’t be spoken in front of a child. Dean can smell fire now – acrid, hot and horrifying. He can feel his heart thumping, all the way to his toes and his chest hurts. It’s choking him. “Dad!” he cries out. A tear slips down his cheek. He musn’t cry or he’ll frighten Sammy.

A little plump hand squeezes his, “De? What’s happ’nin’?” Sam’s other hand is at his mouth, thumb sucked in as he’s speaking and his long eyelashes frame scared hazel eyes. He’s shivering.

Dean takes a deep breath. He’s Batman, he’s a superhero. “It’s nothin’, Sammy. Jus’ rules. Like fire drill at kindergarten. Mebbe we’ll get to touch a real fire truck, with it’s lights flashin’ n’everythin’”

“Can we, De? Can we touch a fire truck?”

Right on cue, a fire truck approaches, too bright, too loud, too many bad memories. It’s absolutely terrifying for Dean. They’re going to lose their dad, and the people who take them away won’t understand about monsters, they won’t be safe, he’ll lose Sammy. There’s a ghost crushing the breath from his lungs, something that Dean wishes he could forget.

John steps from their room, with a blackened towel and charred curtain in his hands, proceeds to drop them to the wet ground and stomp angrily on them. He runs his hand over his face, leaving black smudges on his stubbly chin then looks at his boys. His expression changes and he’s suddenly by Dean’s side, crouching beside him, hugging both his children fiercely to his chest. “You’re okay, buddy. Good work, Sammy. Great drill. You did great. You’re real soldiers.”

He’s solid and warm, and the only home Dean knows. Dean's breath evens out but he can’t help sniffling. His dad wipes the wetness from his cheek with the back of his huge, dirty hand. John smiles at him with affection and something else, something sad and desperate, but his words are light, joking with his sons, “Daddy can’t work a toaster.”

Sam, pulls on Dean’s fingers, eager to watch two fully suited firefighters dash into their motel room. They return to the lot within minutes. One of them holds up a battered and ash-grimy toaster as they both remove their masks. The motel manager rushes up to the crew, breathless with panic and waving his arms about as he talks.

John untangles himself from his sons, “Wait here,” he tells them before standing and striding over to the crew and the manager.

Dean’s jeans are sticking to his skin as the rain continues and he’s suddenly aware of adults tall and wide and unfamiliar, barely dressed, or wrapped in fluffy house coats. He has to look up and up to see their their hostile glares, steeped in disapproval for the boys and their father.

A lady firefighter gives the all clear, tells the crowd that they can go back to their rooms; it was burnt toast, and the drama is over.

They dissipate but Dean stays with Sam, waiting for their father, who is cursing again in an angry dispute with the motel manager. Sammy’s about to cry, Dean recognizes the blink of his eyes and trembling lips. “Please miss!” Dean calls, “Can my little brother see the truck?”

The crew are gentle and friendly. They sit in the cab and Sammy is allowed to touch the steering wheel and turn on the lights. Dean sits rigidly watching him giggle and clap. There’s the ugly stink of smoke in Dean’s nose and he can taste it on his tongue. It might never go away and it doesn’t smell like burnt toast .

He’s relieved when their dad comes to get them. Sammy clunks down the step of the truck, grinning and babbling with excitement and John lifts him in his arms, strong and steady, while securely grasping Dean’s hand.

“We have to leave,” John says.

It’s something their dad says a lot. Dean doesn’t care about the cold, or his wet clothes any more. He climbs into the impala, and picks up the army men that they left on the back seat. “D’ya wanna play?” he asks Sam.

Sam shakes his head. He has his nose to the glass watching the fire truck leave, waving his pudgy hand at his new friends. Dean doesn’t mind. He’s just relieved it’s gone and that they’re leaving the smell of smoke and toast and loss in the rear view mirror.

Two days later, there’s beans bubbling on the hob. John slams a loaf of bread on the counter of their latest room in the Pilgrim Inn Motel and takes two slices out. He flings them in a shiny white toaster and Dean panics, suddenly struggling to breathe. His dad is with him in a moment, with reassuring words and a brown paper bag, and when the toast pops up, they are the last slices that they make in any motel room for at least three years.

“Dad can’t work a toaster,” becomes a joke for the Winchester boys. It makes them smile, is an anthem as familiar as John’s “I’ll keep you safe.”

Sam never has to know the truth of its origins.

***

*In case anyone was wondering, it is possible for toast in a toaster to catch fire if the pop-up is somehow stuck - it comes slightly after enough smoke is produced to set off sensitive smoke alarms. It can also be caused by a build up of crumbs at the base of the toaster, but querying my cooking skills on the basis of this knowledge will lead to a sulky huff on my part.

{Comments are candy for my soul and let me know that I am not alone in this desolate LJ corner.}

Date: 2016-07-24 09:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ayane42.livejournal.com
awesome story! poor little Dean at the memory of fire :(

Date: 2016-07-24 09:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anniespinkhouse.livejournal.com
Thank you. When the first image of the story came to me it was going to be funny - John setting fire to the toast but I realised almost simultaneously how traumatic any fire, however small would be for a young Dean - so instead of humour wee Dean angst was written.

Date: 2016-07-24 10:04 pm (UTC)
sylsdarkplace: Aubrey Beardsley's Salome & St John (Default)
From: [personal profile] sylsdarkplace
That was great! One can just imagine how Dean's memories of losing his mother could be triggered by such a low drama event and why Sam wouldn't make that connection.

Date: 2016-07-24 11:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anniespinkhouse.livejournal.com
Thanks. Yes, sometimes its easy to forget that while Sam has no memories of a mother, which is awful, Dean experienced her loss (and loss of everything he knew really) at an age where he would remember many of the sensations and emotions forever. The smells and sights, though confusing will have stayed and I can't imagine him being a small kid who got a thrill from fire engines.

Date: 2016-07-25 06:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] reddevilpoes.livejournal.com
Oh that poor child. Reliving those horrible memories and still keeping Sammy safe..Good to see a side of John where he really cares about Deans fears.

Date: 2016-07-26 12:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anniespinkhouse.livejournal.com
Thank you. I do think that John did care for Dean and Sam even if he inevitably made some unwise choices - but that is in their universe where he was traumatised by war and loss and demons and angels were pulling the strings. Doing the best he could was never going to be good enough.

Date: 2016-07-25 07:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jj1564.livejournal.com
Poor little Dean, despite his fear and trauma, his priority was still Sam. Beautifully sad, and thank you for making John a caring father here.

Date: 2016-07-26 12:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anniespinkhouse.livejournal.com
Sammy's happiness was something Dean was responsible for at such a young age but I don't believe their father didn't care. I am sure he did. As I replied above, John was traumatised and they were being played by angels and demons I cannot apply our world's standards to his parenting. His best was doomed to never be enough in their universe.

Date: 2016-07-26 05:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jj1564.livejournal.com
I completely agree with you, he did the best he could in extreme circumstances to protect his sons and raise them to be able to protect themselves. So many people hate John but I think he's a great character.

Date: 2016-07-25 11:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] madebyme-x.livejournal.com
I love it when authors fill in those seemingly throwaway lines from canon and create feely fic filled with emotion.

I loved Dean's panic and how he tries to hide it, and Sam's young innocence at seeing the firefighters. Wonderfully done! Thank you for sharing ;)

Date: 2016-07-26 12:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anniespinkhouse.livejournal.com
Yay for throwaway lines in the script! Thank you.

Date: 2016-07-25 02:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thruterryseyes.livejournal.com
very believable. Yay you!

Date: 2016-07-26 12:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anniespinkhouse.livejournal.com
This makes me happy. Thank you.

Date: 2016-07-26 03:44 am (UTC)
ext_19186: Dean the demon hunter (Jensen finger-shoots)
From: [identity profile] candygramme.livejournal.com
Oh, my heart! Poor baby!Dean!I've got a lump in my throat just thinking about it.

Date: 2016-07-26 10:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anniespinkhouse.livejournal.com
I know, right? My very first reaction was a funny toaster on fire story, until I realised that however small the fire, it would trigger terrible emotions in Dean.

My little 'nephew' is absolutely nuts about fire fighters and fire trucks and it occurred to me that is a normal phase in children - but for Dean the klaxons and lights would only remind him of that night. Sam of course, would go through that normal phase and much later, both of them would aspire to be firefighters in the hope of preventing loss for others. I went from jolly to angsty in about thirty seconds flat! Thanks for commenting.
Edited Date: 2016-07-26 11:16 pm (UTC)

Date: 2016-07-27 03:58 am (UTC)
ext_19186: Dean the demon hunter (Alec Memories)
From: [identity profile] candygramme.livejournal.com
Me again. I just re-read it, and it seems to me that for just a teeny little 'throw-away' one shot, you absolutely nailed it. Dean's increasing misery and terror, the sensory overload, smells and sounds and lights, and the desperation incurred by the absolute childish certainty that he would lose his dad the way he lost his mom. All that and the task he's been given, to take care of his brother, makes me amazed that he's still functioning

Date: 2016-08-09 09:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anniespinkhouse.livejournal.com
:) In reality these two would, at best, be babbling messes.

Date: 2016-08-08 08:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] procrastin8or9.livejournal.com
I love this so much! I don't usually read wee!chesters but this was fantastic. It was so in character, Dean panicking internally but putting on a brave face for Sam. Great job!

Date: 2016-08-09 09:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anniespinkhouse.livejournal.com
Always brave for Sammy. Thanks for the lovely comment.

Date: 2016-12-03 05:29 pm (UTC)
fufaraw: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fufaraw
How did I miss this when it was posted? Heart-stopping panic, and the rain just makes it more miserable. You catch that determined bravery in the midst of isolation and loss so beautifully. I just want to wrap them both in blankets and feed them cocoa and well-made toast. Nicely done.

Date: 2017-02-02 12:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anniespinkhouse.livejournal.com
Mm. I am always a fan of wrapping them up cosy and feeding them cocoa, but perhaps with cookies rather than toast. Thanks.

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