Disclaimer: I own nothing Supernatural.
Author's Note: So Vicki and I were watching Provenance and we decided that if Sam and Sara ever had kids they would be, not only brunette, but likely freakishly tall. Which became an even more amusing image once we decided they of course would be girls.
Well, if Sam had girls, surely Dean would have boys. And those boys would end up getting rescued by their girl cousins, because, you know, they're bigger.
But who would Dean be with? Certainly not Cassie, or Jo. No, the only other girl on the show worth liking is Ava, whom, upon further consideration, we decided would be perfect for Dean. Because they're both rather flighty, somewhat dense-seeming, but entirely loveable none the less. And certainly their boys would be too. Obviously.
She's twelve years old. Twelve. No way she should be this tall, already with her nose level to his shoulders. And her sister, even at eight, isn't far behind. Which he notices when they both rush past him at seven in the morning, nearly tackling him in the hall during a race for the bathroom. So much for taking a leak.
"Damn," he mutters, regaining his balance as Rachel turns to him, pissed as hell and banging her fist on the door just slammed in her face. "Little sisters, eh?" he yawns out, running fingers through his bed-bent hair. "Almost as bad as little brothers, I bet."
She scowls at him, all preteen rage and ennui, before letting her lips fall into a coy smirk, oddly reminiscent of his own. "Dad was never that bad," she says, just enough sarcasm filling the words to make him smile.
And speak of the devil, "Dad was never what now?" he hears from behind, turning to see Sam awake, dressed, and ready to go. Always a morning person, the jerk.
"Don't worry about it," he says simply.
"Dad," Rachel huffs, effectively drowning out her uncle's words. "Maya's hogging the bathroom again. I'll never get in, and I have to take a shower and dry my hair, because I'm not going to school with wet hair again. It isn't fair. And she elbowed me in the side to get in there. Hard. Might have cracked a rib."
"I doubt it, Rache," he says with a grin before turning to Dean and inquiring, "Boys up yet?"
"Nope, not exactly early risers."
"Daaaaad," Rachel whines. "Wet hair, broken rib? A little help."
Sam leans forward, into the door and knocks once. "Be quick, kiddo," he says, and is met with a grumbled, whatever, drown out by running water.
"Hey," Dean says, stepping up, "If anybody gets the bathroom it should be me. Gotta pee like a racehorse." Rachel rolls her eyes, which makes him smile even wider. "Besides, I'm the guest."
"He's got a point," Sam says, throwing his arm across his brother's shoulders. "You can use our bathroom," he tells him, earning a deflated whine from his daughter.
On the way to Sam's room Dean almost gets trampled by the tall brunette hopping out the door, one heel on, the other dangling loosely by its strap from her finger. "Oh, sorry," she says, falling into him, grabbing his arm to steady herself so she can put on the other shoe. "I'm late."
"It's barely time to wake up and you're already late?"
She grins, wide and bright, the exact smile that made his brother fall head over heels for her some fifteen years before, and ruffles his hair like a child. "So cute," she murmurs, dropping her hand from his hair to his cheek in a quick tight pinch, before prancing by, tall enough in her heels to tower over his bed rumpled, slouched frame.
"Like living in a house full of Amazons," he says, pushing off the wall.
It's another hour before the kids are set to leave, Rachel and Maya, clean, dressed and well-fed, with backpacks full of checked homework, signed permission slips and healthy lunches. Sammy's kids, no doubt. Even Maya, who has no desire to be a good, organized student, or a good organized person for that matter, has no choice, what with the house being full of oh-so-perfect overachievers.
And then there're the boys. Michael at six is every bit the tiny tornado, ADHD, flying high on sugar, kind of kid that sends kindergarten teachers into early retirement. And John's not much better, having only two years on his brother. If Sam's girls represent the consummate ideal children – the kind that are really just smaller, less intellectual adults – then Dean's boys would be the trouble with a capital T, boys will be boys, my God would you grow up already, type.
And he can't help but smile at that. Because they seem to him to have the type of childhood he had never been allowed, but so craved. Full of fun, smiles and laughter and carefree ways. It's true, there are times he thinks his boys aren't thinking at all, maybe aren't even capable of it. But at least that means they aren't thinking awful, tedious thoughts that no boy their age should be capable of forming.
"So I drop off and you pick up?" he asks Sam to clarify. His brother merely nods, downs the rest of his coffee and heads for the door, dropping kisses on his daughter's heads as he goes. "Okay then," he says absently before turning to the kids, clapping his hands together and issuing out, with perhaps a bit too much enthusiasm, "Let's go!"
There's no arguing about it, it's just the way things are. The girls are easier, whether it's because they're girls, or because they have so much of Sam in them, or Sarah for that matter, or simply because they were, for lack of a better term, raised right. Because, really, unless it comes to his kids' safety, Dean doesn't say no, doesn't know how to be strict. And his wife's just as bad, maybe even worse. So, yeah, he admits it, in contest for father of the year, if it was between him and Sam, well, really there'd be no contest. Because everything that annoyed him so much about his little brother when they were younger, his think first then shoot mentality, his think first then speak ability, his controlling, planning, gotta know what you're getting yourself into attitude – it's all part of what makes him a great dad now.
Plus, he and Sarah both have a sense of humor, a sense of fun. So it's really not too strict in the younger Winchester household. Though, it's not nearly as fun as the elder's.
But that's really the point, isn't it? Michael and John have great fun. They've never once said the dreaded, I hate you, Dad to Dean, which he's heard come from his nieces' mouths on several occasions. Hell, Rachel's favorite phrase until the age of four was "Mean Daddy". Dean never got a "Mean Uncle," and everyone knows why. When he babysat – and man, that seems like so long ago, before Maya or the boys were even really thought of – he'd let Rachel stay up as late as she wanted, eat all the ice cream she could hold, watch classics like the Labyrinth, even though the creepy-ass goblin Muppets gave her nightmares. Because, c'mon, really, what's the harm? She's a kid, let her act like one.
It wasn't until Michael was two and he came across his young sons playing a game in the living room one day, dubbed Head-Butt, that he realized kids can't just run around acting like kids 24-7, they'll kill themselves. And all it took was seeing his four-year-old run headfirst across the room at his brother, tiny head of hair connecting hard with poor Michael's baby fat ass, sending him flying. Into a wall. Which he, of course, bounced off of, landing with a mixture of laughter and tears choking up his windpipe.
Boys will be boys.
Since then he's tried to maintain some sense of order, set down some general guidelines. But he still travels a lot. And Ava's kind of flighty. And the boys really are quite the handful, so much easier to just placate them and entice them with a cookie, then to play the bad cop and make them follow orders. Especially when both of them seemed to somehow inherit their uncle's droopy, manipulative puppy dog stare.
Which Michael had just used in order to gain the coveted spot in the front seat, promptly sending his older brother into tears. And how many times had he had the man up discussion with John? A dozen? A hundred? The boy was just too emotional, too fragile. Where he got it from was anybody's guess, although his mother would be a safe bet. Sure, once they tracked her down years ago, pulled her from the demon's grip, de-evilized her, then she seemed to take things pretty much in stride. But accidentally drop and break a pitcher on the kitchen floor, and she's literally crying over spilled milk.
"Stop it," he says, glaring at his teary son through the rearview mirror. And that only makes him sob louder. "C'mon, buddy," he tries, a little softer. But to no avail. He lets out a deep sigh while backing out of the driveway, barely remembering to crane his head back on the left to see past that damn bush Sam still hasn't taken out.
There are a lot of things around here Sam hasn't taken care of yet. The light switch to nowhere – it does something, they're sure of it, just haven't gotten around to finding out what. Or that bottom step on the front porch that always creeks and will probably give way when one of the kids bounces down it one day. These are the little things that Sam doesn't have time for, being so busy at work, but Dean wouldn't hesitate in taking care of. Because it's dangerous not to know where and how things are wired in your own house. And it's just plain irresponsible to let your wife and children step on something that could collapse at any moment.
This is why Dean decided to strip and fumigate the entire house after finding evidence of mold. Sure it was just a tiny spot, and they never said it was serious, toxic mold, but you never know. Better safe than sorry. Besides, he knew his family would have a place to stay for the week-long endeavor. Even if it did mean having kiddy carpool duty in the mornings.
And come on, it's not exactly a chore to drag those two girls around, though living with them at times can be pure hell – Uncle Dean you shouldn't eat that. Uncle Dean you know the rules, no more than ten minutes in the shower. Uncle Dean, Michael just put my earring up his nose. But right now, for example, Rachel's doing what Dean seems to always have so much trouble with. She's getting John to stop crying.
"Now pick another one," she says to him, enthralling the boy with her homemade fortune teller.
Dean shakes his head, kids still do that, make those things? "You know, fortune telling's considered to be evil by most religions," he tosses back at her. She glares at him, lips in a firm line, and he can't help but laugh when she keeps that expression but adds some eye rolling to the mix, just for good measure. Because it's just so Sam.
He drives on, school being nearly thirty minutes away – stupid overpriced private school. But, hey, it's safe, and a lot closer to his home than Sam's, so he worries at least a little less with the kids being there. A little.
And by the time he drops them off Michael seems a bit less jumping-off-the-walls, John's stopped crying, and even Maya, who spent the better half of the morning sulking for God knows what reason, has a pleasant smile on her face when she waves goodbye. Now if things at work could always be as easily fixed. Maybe he should bring Rachel along just in case.
When he gets back later that evening he finds his wife in the kitchen, cooking on a stove that isn't hers, and humming to herself as she does so. And he loves it.
Every day's a little different now, maybe not quite as exciting, adrenaline fueled, as being on the road, hunting, but this new life just never ceases to put a smile on his face. And, it seems, more than anyone, he has her to thank for that. Say what you will about Ava Winchester. She's flighty and flaky, taking off in the middle of some such task to go take care of something else. Interrupting even her own thoughts and sentences with completely random tangents. ADHD for the psychic wives and mothers of the new millennium.
But she's also kind and trusting and the best mother those boys could have, even if she does occasionally forget the sandwich part of their packed lunches and needs constant reminders about, well, everything in their schedules. She's not afraid to make a fool of herself for their amusement, even in public. And no matter how many times they argue, say they're too old, she never lets them leave the house without a hug, a love you. A smile.
And she is, he decided long ago, the best wife a man could have. The best friend, even. Because she listens without judging, about things others would find horrifying, like their lives. But hey, it's her life too, the demon, his plans…if she can deal with that, the occasional restless spirit hunt shouldn't ruffle her feathers in the least.
She harbors the excitement of a little girl while maintaining enough composure to make her seem calm, cool, collected. And she makes him laugh. God, does she make him laugh. Between her odd little observations of life and her random speed talking spurts, and her inability to care what others think, to get embarrassed.
And she's an animal in bed, which, let's face it, pretty much sealed the deal for Dean.
So, yeah, woman like that in his life…never a dull moment. Which is why, perplexed though he may have been at seeing his two sons frolicking through the front yard wearing nothing but swim trunks and pink bike helmets, and having the time of their lives so it seemed, he was not particularly taken aback.
"Why," he starts, upon entering the kitchen, "are our children wearing helmets?" It's a simple question, one of curiosity, like so many in others in his odd little family. Why does the dog have a place setting at the table? Why is all my underwear suddenly pink? Why is the furniture in the living room moved around, again?
She's bent over the stove, stirring…something. Something that smells unbelievable. Because when it comes to things like paying the bills or doing laundry, she may be too distracted to figure it out. But when it comes to cooking, the woman can focus. "Safety," she says with a shrug, holding a wooden spoon filled with marinara on it for him to taste. He leans in and blows on the hot liquid before lapping it up. "Garlic?" she inquires. And he responds with a nod, even though it tastes perfect just the way it is.
Leaning back on the counter, he gazes out the window at his boys, running, tripping, falling all over each other. "You do realize they're just in the front yard?" he says, one eyebrow cocked.
"A lot can happen in a front yard. They could get hit by a car. Mauled by a bear." He laughs and shakes his head at her. "What? We're near-ish the woods. Could be bears."
"I doubt it."
"Me too." The simmering pot is topped off and Ava turns from the stove, into the arms of her husband. Admittedly, this is her favorite place to be. Not just entwined with him, but here, in…someone's kitchen, smelling her own creation on the stove, hearing her own creations play outside. And yes, safe and warm in his embrace. After all, he was the first – since the demon, because of the demon – and still is the only one who can truly make her feel that way.
"So," he says into her hair, her forehead when she cocks her face up towards his. "What's with the helmets?"
"Apparently Michael hurt
himself at the park today – Sam and Sarah dropped them on their way
out. Well, dropped them off, not dropped them. That's
not how he got hurt. He fell, I think, or tripped or something,
wasn't very clear. Then he hit his head on a fence… or
something. I don't know. It didn't leave a mark, though. But
he was crying and Rachel had to carry him all the way home,
piggyback, even though she just kept telling him that he wasn't
really hurt. Now she's apparently tired of tending to his
booboos, I think she called it, so she gave him her old bike
helmet. For protection. Safety."
"Jealous. Maya leant him hers."
"Good kids, our nieces."
"Mmm, and tall."
"Well, what do you expect?"
"You mean about being tall? Because, yeah, your brother and his wife, hello! Or you mean about being good kids? Because that one seems pretty obvious too."
"What do you mean," he asks pulling away from her a bit.
"I mean, you're family's all about taking care of others. Whether it's other family members or friends, or total strangers who happen to have the same demonically given gift as one of you."
"Yeah, I guess so," he says softly, nuzzling her hair. It's true too. That's just the way the Winchester's were raised. All of them. And since the girls were older than his boys, well, that's just how it goes – elder cares for younger.
Even if the elder is a girl. And that girl, with all her training and physical prowess – because come on, nearly 5' 7 at twelve, that's just ridiculous – beats up a ten-year-old bully, thus causing a seemingly defenseless, cry-baby of a boy to be endlessly ridiculed at school for letting said girl fight his battles for him. Of course, to John's credit, he did agree to then take fighting lessons from his cousin.
Even Maya, who's only a few months older, though light years ahead on the maturity scale, stood up for Johnny and told anyone who laughed at him that she'd kick their ass. Which earned a near suspension from school, and a proud smile and pat on the back from Uncle Dean. Even if he would have preferred for his boy to stand up for himself.
But sometimes that's just the way it is. Kids aren't always as you want them to be. John's not tough and manly, probably never will be. Michael's not very good at school, which Dean never thought he or Ava would have minded, seeing as how neither of them did particularly well either. But when it's your child, and you see their entire future ahead of them, so many open doors, should they wish to enter, suddenly things like a good education push their way to the forefront.
And it was the same with the girls too. Art is Sarah's life. It's her job, her family legacy, what with her father's love of all things aesthetically pleasing, especially her mother, who not only was an artist, but was art embodied. So Sarah had high hopes when she gave Rachel her first set of Crayolas, even higher ones with her first finger paints. She was going to be the next Monet, Picasso, hell, she'd even settle for Jackson Pollack. But Rachel's flung paint looked nothing like art. And she was cursed with dreaded stick person artistry, just her uncle.
And Maya, poor Maya, who struggles in school, spends hours tediously working her way through assignments. She's smart, no doubt about it. But a slow reader with no real desire to improve her skills. Mildly dyslexic, if you can believe that. From Sam's very loins. And she's a klutz, constantly tripping over her own two, too big feet. Which, really, Sam always did at her age, even does sometimes now, though he'd never admit it.
But nobody's perfect.
"Hey," Maya says, entering the room and looking a little more upbeat than her usual, moody self. "Smells good."
Ava smiles broadly, no stranger to compliments on her cooking, which she usually does for the entire Winchester clan at least once a week, but blushing at them all the same. "Thank you." She turns back to the stove as she speaks, words tossed behind her shoulder at her niece. "It's almost ready. Why don't you go get the boys."
Maya nods before peeking her head out the door and hollering to them, "Dinner!" Then again when neither responds, "John, Michael, food!"
It's not that they don't listen. They're good kids, really. But sometimes they just get stuck in their own little play worlds and don't pay a bit of attention to the things going on outside of them. And Maya knows this.
Dean watches closely as she retreats and heads for the pantry. He's just about to ask her if she wants him to get them when he sees what she's doing: crumpling up huge wads of aluminum foil in her hands to form large shiny balls.
He cocks his head at her, follows with his eyes as she leans through the door and chucks the balls at his boys. Kathunk, cling! For such a klutz, she has good aim. They bounce right off their little pink helmets. Both boys turn to see what it was that hit them and remain transfixed when spotting the foil. Because it's shiny, especially in the early evening sun. And, strange though it may be, Dean's boys are always taken with shiny things.
"Dinner!" she yells, convinced they've reentered reality, even if they are still stuck staring at gleaming little balls in the grass. But she was right, it worked. They hear her clearly and jump up, barreling towards the door.
Maya moves quickly out of their way, hopping behind the door with a squeal as they race through. Too fast, too hard. John, ever the competent, look where you're going, one, manages to slide-stop just before running into the table. But John never looks ahead. Ever. So it's no surprise when a cringe-yielding crash sounds, Johnny's helmeted head connecting and then bouncing off the kitchen wall.
He comes away smiling, of course.
Maya, from behind the door, rolls her eyes, attempting an expression as serious and comical and distressed as her sister had perfected years ago.
And Ava, looking over to her husband, sharing an amused smirk with him, says simply, "See, for safety."
No, his family wasn't perfect. He had Amazonian nieces who couldn't draw or read. He had one son who cried like a baby for no reason and let his girl cousins beat up bullies for him. He had another son who ran into walls for fun. He had a wife who could never remember pay the phone bill, despite being a psychic. He had a sister-in-law who pinched his cheeks and tried to talk about postmodern something or other with him. He had a brother who was always on his case about just about everything.
He had, so it seemed, everything he could ever ask for. And more.