Things got easier for John once Dean started to speak again.
To him, Dean's selective mutism meant that there was something wrong with him. It meant that the fire and the loss of his mother was too much for the poor kid, and he had... broke. It meant that John had to be the adult, and he had to do it alone.
But he took Dean's speaking as a sign of him getting over it. He was a big kid, and he was tough. If he could make it through that night, he could make it through anything. And most importantly, it meant that John didn't have to do this alone.
"I'll be right back, Dean. I just need to get something for dinner tonight. You'll be alright?" John had accidentally left some frozen pizza in the oven too long, and burnt it to a crisp. They had just rented this apartment, and he was still getting used to living in a real place again. As far as he was concerned, they were still running. But the boys were young, and they needed some stability, no matter how temporary.
"It's okay, Dad. Me and Sammy are just playing." Dean was sitting on the floor of the living room with Sammy, who had a pile of toys in front of him. It seemed everywhere they went, Dean found another toy that he just knew Sam would love, and he would make John buy it. Now they had a collection of toys that Sam didn't even like to play with.
"Don't answer the door to any strangers, you got it? I have a key, so I won't have to knock."
Dean nodded, and John left.
Sammy look up at Dean, who stared back at him. It was one of Sam's favorite games to play- a staring contest. Dean used to play it with his friends back at home, and he wasn't fully sure little Sam understood the process... but regardless he would stare back at Dean, unblinking, for what seemed like ages.
"Okay, Sammy, no more staring. Let's play." Dean picked up a toy firetruck and held it out to Sam. Sam looked at it for a while before grabbing it. He ran his other hand along the side of the truck for a moment before throwing it back down. He started to shake his head, but seemed to get bored and start grabbing for more toys, instead. "No, Sammy, look..." Dean picked up the firetruck again and held it up to him. "It's a firetruck, Sammy. Can you say truck?"
Sam stared at Dean, thoughtfully. For his age, Dean figured Sam was pretty smart. He could stand all by himself without Dean's help. He could crawl faster than Dean had ever seen a baby crawl. And he seemed to understand what Dean was saying to him. However, Dean was pretty sure that he should be able to say some words by now, yet he remained silent.
Of course, Dean's knowledge of everything baby came from an old friend of his who lived back at home. His name was Sean, and he had a baby sister. Sean talked about her a lot, mostly about how boring she was. But whenever she learned something new, he would tell Dean all about it.
Maybe, then, girls learned how to talk faster than boys. Or maybe, Sammy just didn't want to talk yet.
"Come on, Sammy. You're so smart! Say, truck!" Dean coaxed, but Sam just continued to stare. "What about this?" He dropped the truck and picked up a new toy. "What about fish? That's way easy, Sammy. Fi-ish." Dean sighed, giving up on the toys. He wished Sam would just hurry up and learn how to talk already. He missed his old friends like Sean, and his dad didn't talk about much anymore. He was always busy, reading or going off with "friends" that Dean now knew weren't really friends. They were hunters, and his father worked with them.
Dean perked up at the sound of Sam's voice.
"Dee?" Dean grinned. "Are you saying Dean?"
Sam clapped his hands together, excitedly. "Dee! Dee!"
"Yeah, Sammy! Dean! That's me! You're saying Dean!" Dean picked Sam up, (who, by the way, was starting to get real heavy.) He wrapped his arms around him and squeezed as tight as he could without hurting the poor kid. "I knew you could do it, Sammy."
When John came home ten minutes later, Dean couldn't wait to tell him about Sammy. "He said his first word, daddy! He said my name!" He squealed. "Here, Sammy, say it again."
It took a little prodding, but eventually Sam once again went "Dee!"
John raised his eyebrows, setting down the pizza box (this time from Pizza Hut.) "He's saying Dee, not Dean."
Dean's shoulders deflated a little. "Well he's little, daddy. He can't pro-now-t the N, yet. But he meant Dean."
"It's pronounce, Dean. But, good job. He looks like he's having fun."
Dean started to wonder whether his dad cared more about Sam learning, or just being quiet. He decided to change the subject. "What kind of pizza did you get?"
"Cheese. Here, take a slice for you. You can share it with Sam, but he can only have little pieces of cheese. He can't chew the crust yet."
"Yeah, I know, daddy. He barely has any teeth."
He took his slice over to Sam, who wanted nothing to do with the cheese. "Dee! Dee!" Now that he had learned the word, it was like he never wanted to stop saying it. Dean had a feeling, that even though it took him a while to start talking, Sammy would never stop.