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Dec. 1st, 2006 @ 05:29 pm Lessons and Carols (Supernatural Gen)
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Lessons and Carols
Written for undermistletoe 2006

Christmas had thrown up on the town of Hilson, Kentucky. There was garland all over the poles for the street lights, multicolored trees in every window, and a huge inflatable Santa hugging the sign that welcomed visitors to this one horse town.

One horse, maybe, but it had a good forty darkdevils, all of them hoping to make an early Christmas dinner out of the kids who were waiting for Kris Kringle to dump a million toys down their chimneys. And it was up to Dean Winchester to wipe out the ratty little twerps--the darkdevils, not the kids--before they had a chance to chow down any more than they already had.

He’d been lucky that Caleb had heard about the kid who’d been “mauled by a wild dog” and had recognized the signs for what they really were, because that kid, at least, would pull through, and Dean could make sure nobody else got hurt.

It wasn’t quite the way he wanted to spend Christmas Eve, but he’d had worse.

That first Christmas without Mom, for instance. It was sort of a blur. He remembered Twinkies and Snickers bars and a really good, strong bat which had come in handy when he met his first bashdo six years later. That was it, though, really. The winter of ‘83 had almost nothing to recommend it, and it was happily forgotten.

But there had been years when the Winchester clan had had a hell of a lot of fun. Santa died a horrible death for Dean that first year, but Dad made sure they went out of their way to let Sammy believe in the man in the chimney until he was old enough to find out the truth from his friends at school.

And then, things had really gotten interesting. Sammy was always determined to find his presents--such as they were. Dad never had much, but he always managed to come through when it counted. And he always managed to make it hard on poor Sam.

There had been that year they’d been living in Florida and Dad had gone to Arkansas to help a friend take care of a nasty werewolf problem. He was supposed to be back by Christmas Eve, but Sammy had decided that they had to find their presents now--just in case. Because if Sammy didn’t have that walkman he was going to die. Like any good twelve-year-old.

They’d found something, all right. Lesson 65 in Dad’s Book of Life: Never put anything obvious in an obvious place. Dean could barely keep from laughing when Sammy found the wrapped package buried in Dad’s closet. He’d kept silent as Sam pain-stakingly peeled back the tape, taking incredible care to keep every fold perfect and crisp, only to find a box that was totally empty, except for a note that said “You’ll have to try better than that, Sammy.”

Dean had learned that lesson when he was six and the present he’d been expecting was a baseball glove. It figured that it would take a gullible kid like Sam just that much longer.

Christmas was a good time to learn lessons, Dean mused, as he sat in yet another motel room and made sure the salt was loaded solidly into his shotgun cartridges. Now that had been something he’d come up with himself, and even Dad had been impressed.

Last year around this time, Dean had finally had one too many run-ins with a particularly nasty ghost and decided that, really, there had to be a better way. Salt kept the ghosts off your ass, so it seemed simple: load the salt into the shotgun and fire.

After that, he’d always taken the time to fix up at least twenty or thirty of the damn rounds at a time, regardless of the way his hands bled after a while from the salt burns. It worked on a lot more than just ghosts, and it was a good way to make sure you didn’t actually blow somebody’s leg off if they got caught in the crossfire.

He’d been pretty proud of that one. Dad had taught him enough tricks that he should probably think about writing a book, and it was nice to come up with something Dad hadn’t thought of first.

He wondered if Sammy would be impressed, and dismissed the thought just as quickly, not wanting to ruin the relaxed holiday cheer he had going. Sammy was gone--out of danger, out of the family, out of the business. He didn’t want to learn anything about this crap anyway, right? So what did it matter?

Still, he’d probably be surprised, at least. He usually was.

Like that year they’d rolled into some tiny little town in Maine, right as Midnight Mass was letting out. The only motel in town was right across from the only church in town, and Sam had stood by the car watching the people stream out after the service, each of them quietly singing Silent Night in really not perfect harmony.

Dean had kept an eye on that little eight-year-old standing silent and smiling, while he and Dad gathered up the bags. There’d been no tree that year, but Dean could tell by Dad’s quiet grin that the look on Sammy’s face had been all the present their father had needed.

The motel Dean was staying in this Christmas had at least tried to celebrate the season, and his room was adorned with a little tree on the dresser, decorated by Target. It reminded him of that tree 21 years ago, actually.

Except that this one seemed just a little tacky and sad… and Dad and Sammy weren’t here to share it with him.

Dad was in Los Angeles, dealing with something or other for MacCallister--lizard people or whatever. He and Dean had agreed to meet back home (home, for now, being a rundown apartment in Kansas City) on New Year’s Day. Dean had had a call from the old man a couple hundred miles ago--just checking in. And Sammy? Sammy was… gone. Doing the college thing. Being anything but a Winchester.

Didn’t matter, Dean told himself, as he loaded his pistol with run-of-the-mill ordinance—he really had to find out if Caleb could make salt bullets--and tucked it into the inside pocket of his leather jacket. Lesson 27: Always carry a spare. Words to live by.

He wondered if Sammy still carried that knife Dad had given him for Christmas a few years ago. It was sweet: nice, heavy blade but well-balanced and good for a close fight. And it was great as a second weapon--fit neatly into a boot, which was always a plus.

Sammy had hated that gift. Probably would have liked another walkman better.

Get your head in the game, Dean, he told himself sternly, as he tried to recapture his good mood. He’d learned all by himself that life was just generally safer if you looked at it positively. Kept you from being distracted by the crap life tossed at you.

Shaking his head to dispel the gloom, he dumped a couple of boxes of salt rounds and bullets into his duffle bag and a few more into his jacket pocket. Not the same pocket as the pistol, of course. Too obvious. If the darkdevils he was hunting tonight managed to grab his bag and pilfer his pistol, well… they weren’t getting everything, that was for damn sure.

Shit, he hated those things. Darkdevils were like the cockroaches of the supernatural world. Rat-sized little monsters that had a taste for children and the speed of freakin’ Mario Andretti. It wasn’t right that something that small should be that hard to kill.

”Don’t judge them by their looks, dude.”

Lesson number 17 came back to him as Dean headed for the Impala. He’d been thirteen at the time, and Dad had taken him out the week before Christmas to help clean some sprites out of the basement of some old folks’ home. Dean had thought the little winged things were pretty damn cute--right up until one of them had let out a massive shriek and lunged for his throat. Cute didn’t mean anything, and neither did tiny, and Dean had the scars to prove he’d learned that lesson.

Good thing Sammy hadn’t been there, that time. He’d have tried to make friends with the little freaks.

Damn it.

Dean shoved his duffle bag in the backseat and sat down behind the wheel. This was stupid. Sammy was doing fine, and he was doing what he wanted, so why the hell should there be a problem? Kid was happy. Leave him to it.

And it was Christmas Eve. The most wonderful time of the year and all that crap. Sure, this year, he’d spend it blasting a few dozen roaches from Hell, but it wasn’t like that should really ruin his day. Tomorrow was Christmas, and he’d find the one place in town that inevitably served an incredible holiday dinner. And he wouldn’t have to think about those murderous brats again.

Hark how the bells all seem to say Christmas is here, no freaks today…

He grinned to himself as he started the engine. That little ditty Sam had thought up as Pastor Jim’s children’s choir sang the real thing had cracked the two of them up when Dean was fourteen. Dad had been gone for almost a month, meeting with some friend of his in Colorado, but Christmas Eve, just as the church service was about to begin and the boys were sure they were going to have to go to it, he’d barged into Pastor Jim’s rectory, presents in hand, snow covering every inch of him, and it was like Santa was back, in all his glory.

Dean wasn’t getting that this year. And really, he was too damn old to expect to spend Christmas with his family anyway, wasn’t he? He was acting like a whiny little kid.

Darkdevils, Dean, he reminded himself forcefully, blowing out a breath and pushing all other thoughts to the back of his mind. Get them before they turn this Christmas into a nightmare for some real kids.

He pulled out of the parking lot gently, mindful of the crowds heading for church as the night turned still. There’d be carols and candles and people trying hard not to fall asleep before the end of service.

The memory of being squished in the pew one year at the church in Minnesota, pinching first a dozing Sam and then a snoring Dad in quick succession during Pastor Jim’s sermon ambushed him as he took a sedate right turn, a block before Saint Jerome’s Episcopal Church, and he smiled.

They were here in spirit, right? And it was Christmas.

And maybe, if he was quick, he’d get to church just in time for Silent Night.

* * * * * * *
The End

Author's Note: Missing the Evil Overlord references? Well, you know, reading the Evil Overlord and Evil Empress lists, I realized that really, they're just trying to teach the world the important lessons. All the lessons John's taught Dean? They're in there. Maybe the Evil Ones were a little cruder about it, but... *g*

FANDOM: Supernatural
RATING: G
ORIENTATION: Gen

About this Entry
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From:audrarose
Date:December 2nd, 2006 01:33 am (UTC)
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oh! Ache-y and intense. Poor Dean! And the last line was just perfect.

(though I have to admit -- I don't get the "evil overlord" reference... was that your prompt? just curious. *g*) Thanks for this. :D
From:deansfic
Date:December 2nd, 2006 01:47 am (UTC)
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I should really add a note (will do so after I finish this comment) to explain. All of the Lessons that Dean has learned from John are actually Evil Overlord or Empress rules.

See, when you put them in the right context, Evil Overlords and Empresses are just misunderstood teachers. *g*

Thanks for commenting. I'm glad you liked it!
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From:quellefromage
Date:December 2nd, 2006 01:35 am (UTC)
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Awwwww. Nice.
From:deansfic
Date:December 2nd, 2006 01:47 am (UTC)
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*g* Thanks!
From:zortified
Date:December 2nd, 2006 03:06 am (UTC)
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I like how Dean finally realised his dad and brother were there in spirit - and liked the theme of lessons for Christmas. Nice story!
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From:kris4n6
Date:December 2nd, 2006 03:58 am (UTC)
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I loved it! I especially like how you had John get presents, celebrate with the boys, etc. So many writers make him, well, a total jerk and oblivious when it comes to things like holidays and birthdays.

Now I'm all in a Christmas mood. :)
From:celli
Date:December 2nd, 2006 04:55 am (UTC)
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Awww, awesome.