Scrapbook 6 -- Deck the Halls
Supernatural, all audiences, future-fic. Characters: Dean, Sarah, (Sam)
It's Christmas eve and there no place like home for the holidays. Written for eighth-horizon for Christmas 2006 but a little late. Set in eighth-horizon's "Salvation" universe, by permission (possibly by coercion).
Scrapbook is more concept than story; a series of snapshots, future, past, present in the Salvation universe. They are of varying lengths, various POV's, some more connected than others. (The first three or four particularly)
The characters and situations portrayed here are not mine, they belong to the WB. This is a fan authored work and no profit is being made. Please do not link to this story without appropriate warnings. Please do not archive this story without my permission.
"Warding off evil spirits?" Dean tapped at the bundle of mistletoe hanging in the doorway.
"I thought it was supposed to be a symbol of fertility?" Sarah said, ignoring Dean for the moment from her precarious perch atop the step ladder. She was reaching for a spot above the door and could only barely reach it. The apartment door was wide open and he stood in the hall watching her with a bemused expression on his face and his hands in his pockets.
"Mostly it's used to ward off evil -- thunderstorms, lightening, cradle robbing fairies. Wait. Fertility? Do I want to know this? You two aren’t even married yet."
"Somehow," Sarah said, delicately tapping at the point of an eyelet screw before stretching up to twist it. "I thought you were pretty well aware--" She whacked a little harder. "--that marriage…" she used the hammer a little more to drive the screw in further. "--isn't actually necessary or even--" she tried twisting again and only got it to turn twice before it stuck again. "--influential on fertilization and insemination." She tapped again and the screw went flying, pinging off the top of the door then hitting the floor. "Damn it."
"Aren't those the same thing? Insemination and fertilization?"
"No," Sarah said and made an exasperated sound until she saw Dean grinning up at her. "Smart ass." She used a hand on the top of the door to steady herself as she stepped down, only to find Dean's hands on her waist, guiding her to the floor. "Thank you. Shit. Where'd it go?"
Dean found the screw and held it for her. "You know hanging it from there is going to make it hard to shut the door."
"I know. That's why I'm using this," she said, and pointed up to where the mistletoe hung on a string, the string fed through another eyelet on the back of the door, through a small pulley the end of it wrapped around yet another eyelet. "Open the door, the mistletoe drops. Close it, and it pulls it up. Or it would if I could get the damn thing in."
Dean's eyebrows raised, looking at her rig. "Okay. I'm impressed. You want it there?" he asked pointing to where she'd made a nice little ugly gouge in the plaster.
She smiled. "Yes, please."
"Hammer and nail? I'm going to need a screwdriver too."
Sarah offered him the small hammer and a nail.
"Your hammer is pink."
"So is my screwdriver and my toolbox," she said and showed him the small flat case. Just the essentials. Four screwdrivers of various sizes, a tack hammer, a wrench, a tape measure and a level. There were flower stickers on the outside, worn and faded.
"Who makes shit like that?"
"Shut up," she said good-naturedly. "My dad got it for me when I was like sixteen. It's come in very handy."
Dean tapped the nail into the wall then pulled it out again and inserted the screw. Dropping her pink screwdriver into the eyelet he twisted it until it was flush with the wall. "String."
She offered him the tail end of the string and he fed it through then he handed it back to her as he jumped down from the step ladder. "Show off," she said but weaved and wrapped and adjusted. Dean moved the ladder and Sarah closed the door and the mistletoe obediently rose above the frame. "Ha! It worked!" she said and opened the door again to watch it drop.
Dean was trying not to laugh at her and she grinned again and crooked her finger. He stepped up and she kissed his cheek.
"Oh, come on. I worked hard and that's the kiss I get?"
She tilted her head and gave it some thought then leaned in again. Dean leaned in too, at the last moment she gripped his face and kissed his forehead.
Sarah laughed and put her tools away. Dean retrieved the shopping bag of wrapped presents he'd left in the hall and set it inside the door, then folded up the step ladder and carried it into the kitchen. "Where's this go?"
Sarah pointed at the gap between the refrigerator and the counter in the kitchen. "There's coffee. And wine," she said and gathered up plates and silver to take them into the small dining area. She had the table as decorated as the rest of the house -- red plaid tablecloth, candles and fresh flowers. Place settings for three.
It looked like something out of a catalogue or magazine.
"You promised me mulled cider." Dean said studying the double sets of glasses, two forks, two spoons. Plates inside of plates, smaller plates for bread and salad. Sarah had gone all out.
"That's for later." The coffee pot was nearly full and Dean helped himself then wandered back into the living room. There were small boxes everywhere, tissue paper spread out and lines and lines of ornaments set out. There was a decent sized Douglass fir tree set up in the corner, skirted and decorated to within an inch of its life with ornaments and light. Sarah already had her glass of wine and was working on putting and ornament in each gift bag and then tying a bright red bow on each. She had put on some soft Christmas music -- Dean thought he recognized the artist's voice but couldn't place her name.
She said it casually enough but Dean caught the added levelness in her voice. "He said he'd be here by eight, but dinner's ready if you're hungry."
It was six thirty. "What kind of asshole makes a guy work late on Christmas Eve?"
"The kind of asshole that could make or break Sam's career."
Sarah smiled again and sipped her wine. "More like Marley, but yeah. Anyway, I actually think Sam wants this case. Immigrant appeal or something."
"My brother is a bleeding heart."
Sarah's dimples showed up. "Yeah, he is. Wonder where he got that from?"
"Don't go looking at me."
"Right. 'Cause you are such a hard ass."
He was never going to win that argument. Sarah totally had his ticket and he still didn't know if that were a good thing or a bd. Mostly he thought it was good. "What are those?" he waved vaguely the pile of bags in front of her.
"Uhm, for tomorrow," she said and found an empty box, but wrapped in festive paper and began setting the bags in them. She tossed him one. "Tide you over," she said with a grin.
Dean opened the bag and looked more closely at the small brass ornament with the year -- it looked like a snowflake, might be a star, a couple of individually wrapped truffles, some shortbread cookies, a small four pack of some kind of fancy tea and individual packet of Starbuck's coffee.
"Are you expecting a lot of people tomorrow?" Dean asked, feeling a little anxious for the first time. He'd brought jeans and a new shirt. He'd known Sam and Sarah were having a Christmas day open house for friends the next afternoon, for people at Sam's office, and for the people at that gallery where Sarah worked. Not for the first time, he had to acknowledge that the world Sarah Blake came from was a lot different from the one he and Sam knew.
"I don't know. Probably some of the people from the gallery. Some of the people from Sam's class, probably the clerks at his office even if the partners don't come." She smiled at him. "Don't worry, We'll put you on the official ice run if it gets too much."
Dean snorted. "I think I can handle your co-workers."
"You're done with classes right?"
Dean nodded. "Until after the first of the year. Certs in March."
"Expect to be partied when you get it," she said, and finished packing her gifts away. Dean waved his coffee cup at the box.
"That something your family does?" he asked.
She nodded. "My mother used to spend weeks gathering up little things for people who'd come by on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. Dad and I weren't quite so organized." she said biting her lip. "Mom was…she spent all year looking for little things, noting too expensive. Stored them in a box until just before Christmas. Then we'd put them together on Christmas Eve eve. He sends bigger ones out to his clients -- or at least he did," she said. "I don't know if he did it this year."
"Miss him?" Dean asked gently. Sarah had gone back to New York for Thanksgiving, been there for nearly a week. Dean thought Sam might just jump on a plane and head up the day before, he'd missed her that badly.
The lip biting spread to a smile. "I do. But more…I think he's…he's got an assistant now. Margaret. And she really is wonderful. Very organized, very business-like," she said. "Just the first Christmas I haven't been there since my mother died."
"You could have gone home," Dean said. She could have, even if Sam couldn't afford it, Sarah could -- and her father probably would have sprung for a plane ticket without blinking.
She nodded. "I know, except this is home now," she said holding up her hand and wiggling her fingers to let the small diamond of her engagement ring shine. "I asked him to come out here, but this is a big time of year for business for him." She took a deep breath and pushed up. "I'm hungry. I'm going to put the bread in. You want more coffee?"
Sarah took his cup and Dean sat back, looking at the tree, at the living room. Sarah really had gone all out. There were lit wreaths on the windows facing the street. She had flowers and candles out that gave off a pretty heady aroma of pine and some kind of berry, cinnamon, and clove. Even the pillows on the sofa had green and red covers for the holiday.
Christmas was a big deal to Sarah and Dean wondered if Sam realized that.
Sam wasn't really stupid or blind, but Christmas just had never been a big deal for them. Presents yes, but Dean couldn't remember them ever being anyplace where they could put up a tree on the holiday after Sam hit about ten or twelve. There were always at least some presents, a good meal.
But not this. Not this Better Homes and Gardens display of cheer and tradition, a lot of which Sarah had probably shipped back here at Thanksgiving. He'd been giving Sam a hard time for weeks about the gifts he was picking out for Sarah; Sam kind of pleased with himself that he could actually afford nice things even if he could still be a frugal bastard.
Sarah came back with the coffee. Dean couldn't be sure, but it looked like she had touched up her make-up. Oh, Christ, if Sarah was going to get all teary, he wasn't sure what he'd do, except jump in his car, haul ass down to Sam's office and bodily carry him home.
His stomach grumbled at the scent of some kind of yeasty bread warming up. "You sure you don't want to eat?" she asked, lips twitching.
"The bread will be good."
"We could make popcorn. String it."
"Can you string microwave popcorn?"
"I've never tried," she said and looked up at him. "I'm okay," she said with a small smile. "It's weird but good. Seriously, put on a movie if you like."
He studied her for a long moment, and she met his gaze steadily, no flinching or flushing, like she knew he could tell more by looking at her than by talking to her. "Yeah, okay. Any preference?"
"There's some Christmas movies in the pile -- and I think Sam picked up the latest 'guy blows up the world to save the girl' flick," she said and continued tying her little bows.
He had to admit he honestly didn't know which one Sarah would prefer.
He settled on a fairly recent release of a remake of an older holiday film, figuring it would be the one she'd seen least often. Halfway through it, Sarah finished her bag tying and picked up the box to carry it into the other room.
She was gone too long and Dean put the movie on pause and found her in the dining room looking out the window. Across the street, Christmas lights glowed against flowering shrubs and dwarf palms.
"We could go get him, you know," he said from the doorway. Sarah didn't startle but she did turn to look at him. She didn't look like she'd been crying, just thoughtful.
"You can't fix everything, Dean," she said after a moment but there was no edge or accusation to her words. "I'm not unhappy. I'm a little homesick -- Dad-sick," she said with a quick laugh. "Kind of like you when you don't get to see Sam or your Dad for awhile."
That cut pretty close, made him feel awkward. She saw too much, he thought. She always had. For awhile he thought it was just Sam she could see through but she had a pretty steady bead on him as well. "You freak me out a little, you know?" Sarah was, he thought, possibly better at reading people than either he or Sam -- not in the hinky weird way Sam was. Granted, the three of them had spent a lot of time together over the past year and that should have been awkward at least some of the time, but it wasn't. Hadn't been. Sarah was a lot more flexible personality-wise than either he or Sam. He'd met tough women, but Sarah wasn't that either.
"Why? Because I know that Sam and your father are the most important people in your life?" she said. "I don't even have to try hard for that one. It's pretty obvious."
He had to wonder if she knew she'd made the list too. "Not always to them," he said it without actually meaning to. She did that to him too, made him admit things, he never he even realized he thought.
"Maybe you just don't know how to see what's important to them," she said quietly, glancing back at him. She gnawed on her lower lip a little before turning back to the window. "I spent my whole life around people who think of art the way other people think of friends or family or even God. Art is a great metaphor for life, you know?" She said and Dean didn't say anything, just watched the set of her shoulder, the tilt of her head.
She had her hair braided back. She wore it up more than down, but at home, usually, it tumbled over her shoulders and Sam touched it constantly. Sam who Dean had never know to be such a touch-feely guy except in moments of extreme stress. Sam touched with words.
Sarah could too when it was necessay.
"There are basically three kinds of people who buy art," she said, not looking at him. "There are the people who buy because of their social or economic status. They think they should and so they buy art that will age well, produce a good return, and impress people. Then there are the people who buy art because they think it adds something to their lives -- so they look for the kind that points up what they are missing: color or themes or movement." She turned around and put her back to the window, leaning against the wall.
"And then there are the people who buy art because they love it. They don't care if the artist is famous or if the composition or execution is perfect; they love it because it reminds them of something -- a feeling or a moment. They look at it and they already think it's part of them. They can live without it, but given a choice, they'd rather have it than not. You can't persuade them toward something else, you can't point out the flaws and make them love it any less You can learn a lot about people by observing the kind of art they want. When you know what's important to them, everything else makes sense."
Dean set his back against the archway, crossing his arms over his chest. "So, did you just compare me to a piece of art, or to a buyer?"
She grinned. "Neither. I'm just…I have my own system of categorizing people. Just like you do. You are more artist than art. Why or how you throw paint on a canvas is less important than what's being said when you're done. You don't care what other people think or whether it's worth anything. As long as you get it done."
"Okay," Dean said, accepting it for the moment, but he wanted to think about it. "But this has to do with you being homesick because...?"
She smiled again and shook her head then came toward. This time, when she caught his face, she kissed him lightly on the lips. "I miss my Dad. And neither you, nor Sam, can make that any less true. I'm not lonely. I'm not unhappy. I just miss him. You can't fix this and honestly? I wish you wouldn't try, okay?"
She headed back into the living room and turned the TV back on. Dean followed her after a moment, sliding back down onto the couch beside her. They both stared at the TV for too long without saying anything, before Sarah reached down and grabbed up the little bag she'd given Dean and pulled out the two truffles. She offered him one.
"You know, contrary to what women think, chocolate does into cure everything," he said.
Sarah popped the whole thing in her mouth and smiled. "Nope. But everything is better with chocolate. Even homesickness."
Dean bit into his cautiously and got hit with a very strong rum flavor. "Whoa. Alcohol, on the other hand…Jeez. What do they do? Inject these things?"
"Pretty much, yup. What did you get?"
"Rum. I think."
"Mine was bourbon."
Dean finished the rest of his. "You know…if you mixed that in a glass of milk…"
Sarah started laughing. Dean only grinned at her glad to see her smiling, the light back in her eyes. She was just catching her breath agains when they both heard the key in the lock. Sarah was off the sofa in a flash.
"Holy shit!" Sam squeaked out when the mistletoe dropped and hit him in the head.
That set Dean off laughing, and started Sarah up all over again, while Sam stared at them both like they'd lost their minds.
"Hi!" Sarah said through her giggles and then stretched up to kiss Sam as he held the mistletoe out of the way.
"Hi..." Sam said and pulled away quickly, face flushed and Dean stared at him. Not like he hadn't seen them lip-lock before. "Uh…"
"Do you think you might have one of those for me?" A slightly higher voice than Sam's asked from the hallway.
Sam stepped in, sidling around Sarah.
"Dad…?" Sarah stopped laughing, but not smiling, as Daniel Blake came in the door. If anything her smile got bigger -- she practically glowed. The mistletoe did not bonk her father on the head but he got an armful of his daughter.
Sam had his hands full with his briefcase and a couple of cloth bags that he'd picked up from the hallway. "Tree," he said quietly, handing the bag to Dean, as he slid the leather case off his shoulder and onto the table.
"Not working?" Dean asked just as quietly because Sarah was talking and Daniel Blake was taking his own sweet time with the conversation.
"Plane was late," Sam said.
"I could have have--"
Sam gave him a half smile. "LAX, Dean. On Christmas Eve. Besides, I knew you'd be here -- oof!" he said because suddenly Sarah had both arms wrapped around him hugging him hard.
"Are you hungry?" she asked, but kissed Sam before he could answer. "I need to set another place," she added.
"I can do that," Sam said and hugged her back, then bent down to kiss her. "Merry Christmas."
Sarah didn't let him go with just a peck. "Yes," she said and if seeing her father made her glow, looking at Sam made her shine. "It is," she said, " Thank you. Dad?" hse asked over her shoulder, not letting Sam go. "You want a glass of wine?"
"That would be wonderful," Daniel Blake said, pulling off his coat.
Dean's opinion of Daniel Blake hadn't changed a whole lot since the first time they'd met but he stepped up anyway. "I can put that away for you," he offered.
"Thank you," Blake said and offered up his coat. Dean pulled his own light jacket off the chair where he'd dropped it and hung both in the hall closet. "I understand you are getting your certification in Forensic Anthropology," Blake said and Dean glanced at him in surprise. He wasn't even sure Daniel Blake remembered his name half the time.
"Yeah. Course work finishes up in January, then the certs in March."
"That's quite a rigorous field of study, I understand. Thank you, dear," he said as Sarah brought him a glass of wine.
"It's pretty interesting stuff," Dean said and half wished he had a beer or something. Keeping Sarah company was one thing but her father --
"Need to put the leaf in the table."
"Sure. Excuse me."
"Daddy, come help me in the kitchen…" Sarah said and Blake followed her obediently and quickly.
"Huh," Dean said softly, catching a glimpse of Sarah tucking a towel over her father's suit and Blake acquiescing with a smile.
Sam didn't actually need his help. Dean wasn't even sure they needed the leaf, but he helped Sam clear the able, pull it apart and them re-set it, with four place settings instead of three.
"You know I can get a room--"
"No. He's got a hotel room, just down the street," Sam said, smiling to himself at hearing the two of them, father and daughter, in the kitchen.
"Did you call him?"
"No. He called me, to ask…" Sam said and shrugged as he smoothed the tablecloth back in place. "To invite us there…to cover the tickets and I…persuaded him to come here."
"You persuaded him?"
Sam blew out a breath that made his bangs stick up. "Believe it or not…easier to talk him into coming here than it would have been to convince Sarah to go there."
"I don't know…she's a little homesick."
Sam nodded. "I know. But that's…she says it's not been the same since her mother died. Worse to be there…even with her Dad. Neither of them is ever going to have the same kind of Christmas they had when Allison was alive." Sam looked a little pensive, thoughtful. "I uh…you know we invited Dad, right?"
Dean nodded. "Yeah. He said…but he's got something--"
"No, he doesn't," Sam said but he didn't sound angry. "I just thought…Daniel's flying back out the day after Christmas and I thought maybe we'd just…you know, head on out to Dad's. You want to go?"
"Sure," Dean said and fought back his own smile.
"Hey, guys?" Sarah called out to them, sticking her head out of the kitchen doorway. "You want to come help carry food to the table?"
Sarah was a decent cook usually, but if the chicken was a little dry, or the casserole a little overdone, none of them said anything. Dean found himself sitting across from Daniel Blake, who turned out to be pretty good at keeping the conversation going -- or Sarah did. Whatever issues Blake might have with Dean or Sam or Winchesters in general was kept off the table and out of the conversation. Whatever else Dean might think of the man, it was pretty obvious that he loved his daughter, that she was the most important person in his life.
Enough to let her go, to follow where she led. Dean though maybe he understood Daniel Blake a little better than had -- ad found himself idling wondering what kind of art Blake liked.
When Sarah offered a toast to family and the season and Dean didn't have any trouble tapping his glass to his brother's, his future sister-in-law, or to his brother's future father-in-law.
Sarah wasn't likely to freak him out again. She'd been right.
Watching Daniel Blake's face when he looked at his daughter, at Sam's smile when he did the same thing; he got it.
When you knew what was important to someone, everything else made sense.
Comments or feedback? Drop me a line at maygra @ bellsouth.net or leave me a comment in my livejournal.