Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Apr. 8th, 2007

Title: Baby Elephant Walk

Author: bodgei

Category: gen, flash back

Characters: Sam and Dean

Disclaimer: if they were mine would I be scrounging change from under the seats? OK that’s a stupid question, I would.  They aren’t, in fact they belong to any number of people who seem disinclined to sue (mind you all they would get is said change from the seats).  Baby Elephant Walk was written by Henry Mancini in 1961, you’d know it if you heard it.

Summary: Sam thinks about his favorite moments with his father.

Authors notes: Cheep motels, one bed, it happens to me at least once a year.  Also the memory is mine (minus the clown thing – I like clowns, except for the ‘why is a drunken Irishman supposed to be funny again?’ part) since looking at John and Sam is like looking at me and my dad when I was Sam’s age I   thought I would give him my favorite memory too.   This is not part of Ten Years Gone. Beta was

trystan830.  She’s awesome. 

Baby Elephant Walk   




“Sam, watcha thinking about?” Dean’s voice came from the other side of the bed.  They had asked for two beds, but as will happen sometimes, when they got into the room there was just a single king.  The room smelled like cats and cigars and stale beer, with maybe a dash of mildew and bad plumbing stuck in for good measure.  In short it smelled like home to Sam.


“Dean, it’s the middle of the night,” Sam sighed.


“And you aren’t sleeping, and you bouncing around is keeping me up.  So answer the question.”  


“Dad,” Sam replied reluctantly.  It would have been John Winchester’s birthday, if John Winchester had still been alive. 


“Yeah,” Dean’s voice seemed small and far away to Sam, “What about him?”


“That time he took us to the circus.”


“I thought you had locked that up in the ‘never think about this again’ vault.”


“It was your fault anyway.”


“How’s that?  I wasn’t the one who flipped out,” To Sam’s ear Dean actually sounded interested.


“You told me clowns steal kids, that they would take me away,” It seemed silly eighteen years removed.  But all these years later Sam was still terrified, it didn’t help to know that the only person who had ever taken him away from his family was himself.  He still couldn’t look at a clown and not feel the terror of losing the only things he had ever had bubbling up in him. 


“I’m your big brother; it’s my job to tell you crap like that.”


“Well…” Sam didn’t have a comeback for that, not really, “I wasn’t thinking about that part.”


“What then?”


“You know, earlier.  With the elephants.”


“Yeah,” this time Dean’s voice is soft with memory, “you really liked those elephants.”


And Sam let himself remember too.


Sam was five and they were staying in a cheap motel, like always.  But it was years before Sam understood that not everyone lived like he did.  He was five and his whole world consisted of his Dad and Brother. 


The circus was in town, it was Clyde Beatty Cole Brothers.  Dad was telling them about it, how it was the biggest circus under a tent.  Dad told them about their grandfather and how he had gone to see the elephants put up the tents.  And how he wanted to take them the next day to see it too.   In Sam’s memory, John seemed happy then, at least that day. 


“Where was that again?” Dean’s voice intruded on Sam’s thoughts.




“Crappy little state.”


“Could be worse, could be New Jersey.”


“Whatever, Dude.”


Sam went back to thinking about that day eighteen years before.  John had gotten his boys up at dawn and drove to the place the circus was going to be set up.  The world smelled different that day.  Sam remembered the smell of damp grass and straw and animals.  Sam liked animals, but he was never around them; when he was around them he would routinely try to get away and go to them.  To stop his youngest from slipping away, John had perched Sam on his shoulders.  Sam didn’t really remember the process of the tent going up.  What he really remembered was the elephants all walking in different directions and John’s shoulders warm under his legs.  He remembered being happy.


“You guys want to come see a show this afternoon?” John’s hands had been warm on Sam’s leg. 


“Can we, Dad?” Dean had asked. 


“Of course,” John had said, leading Dean back to the Impala.  John buckled Sammy in the back seat, in the seat belt he had installed after Mary’s death.  Dean was belted securely in the front seat and the three went back to the Motel.   Sam had been so excited he was squirming all morning, and Dean had spent all day telling Sam how clowns stole little boys and ate them, or made them stay in the circus forever.  Sam thought being eaten would be better then knowing his family was out there someplace and he couldn’t get to them.  Sam had cried and John had told Dean to stop.  Sam had quieted, just so he had Dean could go to the show. 


Around noon, the three had returned to the circus.  John had tucked Sammy in between him and Dean on the bench, the tent was very warm, even though the spring day was cool enough for John to have a jacket on.  The tent smelled of sawdust and animals and Sammy was happy and excited, they were close to the front and Sam could feel the excitement of both John and Dean. 


When the show started, that was when Sam’s memory went a little hazy.   He remembered the clowns, and everything Dean had been saying.   Sam knew for a fact that they were coming to take him.  To take him away from Dean.  To take him away from his father.  As they came close Sam was too afraid to scream or cry or reach for his Dad.  All he could do was sit perfectly still and hope they didn’t see him.


They were coming closer.  Sam wanted to scream, but he couldn’t breathe.


Then his Father was lifting him and carrying him outside.  Sam still wondered that his Father had noticed his fear before Dean had.   Sam remembered hiding his head in John’s Jacket until his father’s rumbling voice had said, “Are you alright now Kiddo?” Sam had nodded against his father, “You want to come out then?”


Sam had peeped out of his father’s jacket to see elephants.  A pretty woman in shiny clothes, was moving between them and checking on the spangled blankets and headdresses on the huge beasts.  She noticed John and Sam and came over to them, “You shouldn’t be back here,” she had said with a smile for John.  Sam knew women liked Dad and he knew how to make her like John more.  He smiled a watery tearful smile from his place in his father’s arms, “Oh, are you alright sweetie?”  she asked Sam.


“Sammy seems to be afraid of the clowns.”


Lots of kids are,” she came over to the edge of the pen, the smallest elephant had followed her, “They wont hurt you, Baby.”


I’m not a baby, and Dean says they take kids away.”


“Who is Dean?” she asks John.


“His older brother, he’s still inside.”


“With your wife?”


“Mommy’s dead,” then in a panicked voice, “We left Dean inside and the clowns will get him!”


“Clowns don’t take little boys,” she had said, but Sam had been distracted by the elephant reaching out to him with it’s trunk, it had felt like a strange hand working it’s way over him, “You’ll have to forgive Poppy, she knows little boys always have sweets.  What’s your name?”




“Well Sammy, you are right, you should go back and be with your brother, but if you are really good and brave after the show I’ll let you and Dean ride Poppy.”


John had carried Sammy back into the tent and slipped back on to the bleacher with Dean, Sammy tucked safely in his arms.  Sam had hidden in his father’s jacket every time the clowns had come.  But when the elephants had come he had pulled Dean’s sleeve, “We are going to ride that little one, Dean!”


“You liar.”


“No Dean, the sparkly lady said.”


“Only if you’re good, Kiddo.”


At the end of the elephant’s routine the Lady had made the elephants bow.  And she had waved at Sam.  After the show John had taken his sons back to the elephant pen.  The lady, true to her word had placed Dean and Sammy on the littlest elephant’s back.  She had even produced a Polaroid and taken any number of pictures of the boys and John.  And someone had taken some pictures of all four of them, one of those pictures was tucked in Sam’s notebook at the bottom of his bag.  


The rest of the afternoon passed in a haze of popcorn, cotton candy, hot dogs and peanuts.  Sam was secure in the knowledge that he was safe with his dad and Dean and no one was going to change that.  John let the boys eat too much and spent too much buying Dean a monkey made out of rabbit fur and Sam a little stuffed elephant.  Dean had asked to see the show again and John looked at Sam, “You want to see the show again?”


Sam didn’t, not really, but Dean seemed to want to so bad, “Can I sit on your lap, Daddy?”


“Sure, Sammy.”


Dean was holding Sam’s hand and John was holding Dean’s when it happened.  Sam didn’t remember it exactly, but in his memory the clown grabbed him and pulled him away from Dean.  Pulled him away from his family.  The adult Sam figured the guy just wanted to give a kid a balloon or something, but even as an adult the fear made his stomach do back flips.  Sam had screamed, dropped his toy, and leapt toward Dean and his father.  Reaching his family he had dissolved into hysterical tears, babbling about being stolen.


“Stop being a baby, it was just a story,” Dean snapped.


“Dean, get his toy.  We have to go.”


“Dad,” Dean whined.


“Don’t, Dean,” John had growled.


“Yes Sir.”


Sam had cried himself sick.  Actually sick.  He had cried himself into a puking mess.  John tried to comfort his youngest, but in the end Sam was bundled up in John’s jacket and was stuck in the center of the Impala’s big front seat.   Sam huddled between John and Dean all the back to the motel, tears still coming in little hiccups.  John carried his baby boy into the motel and tucked him gently into the bed farthest from the door, closest to the bathroom.


“You’re OK now Kiddo,” John had said stroking Sam’s forehead.


“It’ll chase me and take me away and kill me,” Sam whined. 


Your brother and I well never let anything like that happen to you,” John’s voice was soft and gentle, “Right Dean?”


“Right,” Dean had said, crawling up on the bed with Sam and John.  They had spent the rest of the afternoon curled up on the one bed watching bad movies on TV and keeping Sam safe.  Sam remembered sleeping with John for days afterwards, and crying in the night when he couldn’t. 


Sam could never look at a clown again without wanting to run away and hide, without wanting to cry or scream.  He’d never be able to look at a clown again without thinking that his world would be torn away.  But every time they were in a town that had a circus under a tent John and Sam would stand in a field, just after dawn and watch the elephants help set up.  And Sam loved the elephants, as long as he didn’t have to go anywhere near clowns.  He and his father kept it up until he left for Stanford.  Even when they couldn’t stand each other, they could get along for this one thing.  They could get along to stand in a dewy field for an hour to watch the elephants.  Even when Sam hated John with all of his might, seeing an elephant would remind him how much he also loved his father.  Even after he left for school, just seeing an elephant would make Sam miss his father, miss his family, terribly.    


Sam felt Dean shift beside him, then a thump on the shoulder, “You still like Elephants, Sammy?”


“Yeah.  I took Jess to see them once, you know, with the tents, but she wasn’t impressed.  Why?”


“The circus is setting up tomorrow, I saw a poster when we were doing laundry.”


“Really?” Sam asked, excited despite himself.


“Really.  And I can’t imagine anything dad would want you to do more on his birthday.”      


“He’d want us to finish the job, Dean.”


“We can take an hour or so off of a job, so you can see an elephant.  Plus it’ll be early, it’s not like we would be missing anything, it’s not like we could be out talking to people at ass crack of dawn.  Now will you get some sleep?”  


“Yeah,” Sam said smiling to himself, “And Dean?”


“What Sam?”


“Thanks.” Sam knew it wouldn’t be the same without John, but he was glad of any connection to his father, no matter how false or fleeting it might be, “It’ll be fun.”


“You always said that,” Dean says chuckle in his voice, “and it never is.”