Night fell quickly on the open prairie and Christmas Eve already hadn't treated the Winchesters particularly kindly. Cold and over hungry, they were in no position to be hauling a Christmas tree back to the bunker; and yet, that was their position precisely. Dean had begged and begged and pleaded and annoyed and demanded that they have a tree this year. And after the year they'd had, Sam couldn't refuse. Despite the fact that Sam had never been big on holidays- to him they were only a reminder of all the things absent in his life- part of him was looking forward to embracing the holiday spirit. The last Christmas Sam vividly remembered was the haphazard one he'd thrown together in a motel room; a last-ditch effort to fulfill a dying man's wish. For so many years, that Christmas rattled around in Sam's mind. As happy as the memory was, it was so very tarnished by grief and trauma. He'd replayed that night over and over during the four months Dean was in Hell, and he'd replayed it a hundred times over since then. Finally, though, Sam was ready to replace that memory.
And so Sam Winchester had agreed to find, cut, and haul some evergreen back to the bunker and decorate it, and indulge Dean's sweet tooth with red and green desserts. But before any of that could happen, they'd have to cut down this goddamn tree. A tree surrounded by mud, in a quickly darkening field, being cut down with a blunt, rusty saw, and after an already long day which had rendered them fatigued and grouchy.
But Sam was being accommodating.
At least… he was trying to be.
"Put your back into it!" Dean complained.
Sam threw down the dull saw and crawled from underneath the branches; his hair caught in the multitude of low hanging needles. With that one action, the soundscape of their midnight merriment quickly transitioned from cursing and grunting to Dean's boyish laughter.
"You uhh..." Dean giggled. "You got a little somethin' in your hair, Scrooge."
Dean waved his hand in the general direction of Sam's head and the larger man couldn't help but be persuaded by his brother's joy. He smugly threw back his own sugary insult.
"Your turn, Cindy Lou."
Sam offered Dean the saw and the older man, still on his laughter-high, accepted it willingly. Crouching down and resigning himself to laying in the mud, Dean grumbled as he batted away the branches attempting to scratch against his face. From under the tree, Dean let out an exasperated sound of disbelief.
"Did you even try? You got through like an inch." Dean took a pregnant pause and Sam knew exactly the brand of vulgarity his brother was headed towards. "Of course maybe for you an inch is-"
"Don't even think about it." Sam stopped his brother from further commentating.
"Seriously, did you give any effort? Like at all?" Dean's tone was dripping with condescension but it remained in good fun.
"If someone had brought a decent saw, it would've been a hell of a lot easier."
"Well if you hadn't forgotten the eggnog, I wouldn't have had to get the crap saw in the first place." Dean was still under the tree, grunting and attempting to arrange himself successfully under the branches.
Sam let the moment go and waited until the inevitable plea for help came. After several minutes of heavy breathing and mumbled cursing, it finally came.
"Sam, get your ass down here and help me pull."
"Pull what?" Sam asked.
"The freakin' saw. The sap is gluing it to the trunk."
Now it was Sam's turn to laugh.
"If you say anything I'm gonna knee you in the stomach." Dean warned.
The threat only made the moment funnier, though, and Sam basked in the irony of the situation. Crouching, Sam nestled his large body under the branches once more and his hands found the opposite end of the saw. Grasping it, he attempted to rip it towards himself as Dean pushed at the same time.
"It keeps freakin' pinching." Dean grunted. "This is impossible, I can't see anything."
"I told you to bring a flashlight before we even left the car." Sam reminded him.
"Well that's great for you."
They continued their arduous repetition of push, pull, push, pull until Dean interrupted.
"Hold on a second."
Dean paused his movements to rearrange and get a better angle. Hands off the saw, Dean was attempting to push himself a little further away from the trunk. Not hearing his brother's request for a recess, Sam forced the saw away from himself, assuming that Dean was there to control it. Instead, the handle of the saw hit Dean square in the nose.
"Fuck!" Dean cried out as blood flooded down his chin and Sam scrambled to find out what was wrong.
"What? What happened?" Sam crawled out from underneath the tree and went to stand guard over Dean's prone body.
"I told you to wait a second, Sammy. God." Dean held his gushing nose as he rolled out from the mud.
"I'm sorry, I didn't hear you."
Dean reached out a non-bloodied hand to Sam and the taller man adjusted his weight so that he could help pull his brother upwards. Sam smiled sympathetically at Dean and noted how apropos the red streaks were with his green field jacket.
"At least you're in Christmas colors." Sam offered.
Dean rolled his eyes and used his un-dirtied henley underneath to wipe the blood away from his face.
"Let's just knock the thing over." He suggested.
Silently agreeing, Sam stood next to him and they both stretched out their arms, fitting their bodies against the sharp needles. Having cut through enough, they were sure that while the trunk would be uneven, they'd be able to get the tree down.
"One. Two. Three." Sam announced the countdown and with two big pushes, the large evergreen came crashing down into the mud.
"Timber." Dean announced quietly.
Standing still for a moment, a little unsure what to do next, the Winchesters took stock of the moment. Sam was the first to speak, his voice genuine.
"Merry Christmas, Dean."
"Merry Christmas, Sammy."
Standing alone in a dark field, covered in blood and mud, smiling and content, Sam and Dean had given themselves a thoroughly Winchester kind of Christmas.
Neither of them would have it any other way.