"Perhaps I can be of some assistance."
"Ah, not you," Dean said as Martha stepped into the light of the room.
She gave her snow white hair a pat and shrugged one shoulder, the movement causing the jingle bell necklace around her neck to tinkle.
"Sorry, precious," she told Dean. "You're such a sweet boy."
"You?" Gwen said heatedly. "You killed my parents?"
"Of course not, you silly girl," Martha said. "I have never killed anyone. I have simply tried to keep the spirit of Christmas alive. To keep Snowdell alive."
"By using the spirit of a good man to kill?" Sam asked.
"It's what Rudy would have wanted," she said. "He believed in Christmas. He knew what was important. For fifty years I've been taking care of this town. Since the year Walter and Eric left for the Navy. Christmas was the one time of year they would able to be home, and the crotchety old judge wasn't going to let us give a Christmas parade."
"The judge was Rodney Ellings," Sam deducted.
"Yes," Martha said. "It was all a big accident, really. Just a silly teenager with a couple of old books and candles. But, somehow, Rudy was given to me. He was a gift—a sword of justice to protect the spirit of Christmas. After Ellings, I knew my purpose was to keep the joy and feeling of Christmas alive every year. The ones who tried to ruin Christmas and bring down the town's morale were punished."
"You're seriously screwed in the head, you know that lady?" Dean asked.
"I've worked my whole life to protect Christmas!" Martha shouted. "I should be head of the Christmas committee! I should be in charge of the pageants! I should get the glory, not her!" she yelled, pointing at Brenda.
"Christmas isn't about decorations and parades and pageants," Sam said, crinkling his brows in an expression of sympathy.
"Yeah," Dean said. "It's about family and friends, and love, and all that other mushy crap. It's about giving and doing for others."
"Putting the needs and desires of other people ahead of your own," Sam finished. "By sending Rudy's spirit after people and killing them for 50 years, you've done more damage to the spirit of Christmas than those who didn't put up lights or decorations would ever do. But you can fix it. First give up your control over Rudy."
"Then go to the police and confess to the murders," Dean said. "They wouldn't be able to convict you, but at least the truth would be out."
"No!" Martha said, lunging forward and grabbing Gwen by the arm and pulling out a pair of scissors.
"Oh, come on! Where did she even have those?" Dean wanted to know.
He drew his pistol and Sam cocked the shotgun at the same time. Martha didn't know that it was loaded with rock salt.
"No one would look at me the same," Martha said, holding the scissors to Gwen's throat. "I'd be treated like I was crazy. Not like the hero that I am!"
Dean took a slow step to the left. "Why don't you just let her go?"
"You think killing Gwen is going to make for a happy Christmas? You're ruining it for everyone," Sam said, taking a step to the right.
The scent of wood smoke filled the room, and Sam and Dean stepped back toward each other.
"You smell that?" Dean asked, looking around.
"Yeah," Sam said, crinkling his nose. "He's here."
Martha hauled Gwen around in a circle as she looked around frantically.
Green smoke drifted through the flames in the fireplace. Martha stared in wide-eyed wonder as the fog moved through the air. Gwen took the opportunity to ram her elbow into Martha's stomach, breaking the older woman's hold and run to Brenda's side.
Rudy Adavanta appeared and stood in front of the fireplace.
"Get her untied and get out of here," Dean said slowly to Gwen.
"Way ahead of you," Gwen said, pulling Brenda to her feet and shuffling her out of the den.
"It's over, Martha," Sam said, holding the shotgun on Rudy while Dean held his pistol on the woman. "Call him off. Let him go, and we'll call it a night."
Martha closed her eyes and pursed her lips. Rudy disappeared.
"Where is he?" Sam shouted.
There was a crash from the kitchen and Gwen screamed.
"Dean! Sam! In here!"
The Winchesters rushed into the kitchen in time to see Gwen swing a box of Morton in a wide arc, sending salt flying in a thick stream toward the outstretched hand of Rudy Adavanta. With a howl, the ghost disappeared.
"Where did he go?" Gwen asked.
"He's gone, but he'll be back," Sam said, lifting Brenda off the floor where Gwen had dropped her. "She's starting to come around."
"Sam!" Dean shouted.
Sam looked behind him and saw Rudy reform in front of Martha.
"Kill them all. They want to destroy my Christmas," Martha said.
"Get them outta here, Sammy," Dean shouted. He picked up the iron machete that Sam had placed on the counter and held it like a baseball bat.
"Come on, you fat son of a b—"
His taunt was cut short as the spirit moved its arm and he was thrown against the wall. The machete went skittering across the floor, as did the pistol that was knocked from his waistband.
Martha laughed and clapped from the kitchen door.
"Oh, you want to play, huh?" Dean said as he dragged himself from the floor. "Let's play, old man."
Rudy—his ghostly face ever expressionless—stretched out his arm and clenched his fist. Dean grabbed at his throat as his air was cut off.
A shot rang out through the kitchen, making Dean flinch. The spirit disappeared in wisps of green, and for the first time a smile curved his lips. As the ghost disappeared, Dean could see Martha's shocked face as she stared down at a dark red patch that was spreading across her crisp white shirt.
Dean whirled, expecting to see the regret-filled face of Sam, but was shocked to see the determined expression on Gwen's face.
She looked at Dean and set his gun on the counter, then brushed past Sam to see to Brenda.
Sam slammed the trunk on the Impala and tossed his bag in the backseat.
"So what do you think'll happen to the Christmas capital of Wisconsin?"
"I figure it'll keep being the Christmas capital," Dean said. "Nothing died with Martha but a nutso old lady and a 60 year old ghost. This town will be able to make it without her."
Sam nodded and jerked his head, indicating something behind Dean.
"I'm gonna go make a final sweep of the room," he said.
Dean turned around and tucked his hands in his pockets as he looked at Gwen.
"How're you doing? After…"
"I'm fine, which makes me a little nervous," Gwen admitted. "It had to be done. She wouldn't have stopped. He would have killed you, then the rest of us."
"Still, it's…it's tough," Dean said, clearing his throat. "You know, killing someone."
"You've killed people?"
"I've killed things that looked like people. Some things that were at one time people. And yeah, things that were still people. But because of it, other people—decent, good people—lived. That's what you gotta remember. When it starts to get to you, remember that you, me, Sam, and Brenda…we're all alive because you did what you had to."
Gwen nodded and offered him a handshake. "Thank you. I'm sorry I was such a pain in the ass."
"Hey, I'm used to it. I live with Sam, remember?"
"Brenda doesn't remember much. She was unconscious for most of the ghost stuff, but she woke up in time to hear Martha tell Rudy to kill us."
"That's good. At least she doesn't think you're some kind of psycho."
"I told her it was a mistake on the FBI's part," Gwen said.
"Tell her to write to her Congressman," Dean said with a grin.
She smiled and tucked her hands into her hoodie. "So, are you guys leaving now?"
"Yeah," Dean said, running his hand over a pile of snow on the side mirror. "Gotta keep moving."
"You can stay and spend Christmas if you want," Gwen said. "I mean, we still have the parade and the Christmas Eve festival."
"No thanks," Dean replied. "I'm a little Christmassed out."
"Oh," she said. "Ok. Well, you guys be careful. If you're ever in the area again, stop in."
Gwen turned and began walking down the driveway.
"Hey Gwen," Dean called. When she turned to face him, he shrugged. "You did good. You know, with the whole ghost thing. Most people would have been wrecked, but you did good. That says a lot about what kind of person you are."
A soft smile curved her lips and she lifted her hand in a wave before turning and continuing on her way.
Dean sighed and turned around to yell for Sam to hurry up, and—whap!—got a face full of snow. He ran a hand over the melting snowball and glared at his little brother, who was grinning cheekily, his dimples on full display.
"What are you? Twelve?"
"Dean, Dean, Dean…" Sam said, scooping up another handful of snow.
"We don't have time for this Sam," Dean said. "Get in and let's get out of here. We gotta get on the road."
Dean bent to pick up his duffle bag and shoved it in the back seat.
Cold exploded over his butt and the backs of his thighs. He straightened quickly, banging the back of his head on the ceiling of the car.
"Sam!" he bellowed as his brother laughed. He straightened and saw that Sam was still on the other side of the car.
"The road can wait a little bit," Sam said, inclining his chin.
Dean whirled and saw Gwen standing at the end of the driveway, flicking snow from her mittens. He sighed and shook his head with a grin.
Sam cleared his throat. "I'm gonna hang out here and do…something. You should, I dunno, go get some breakfast or something."
"You're forcing me to go on a date?" Dean asked, arching a brow at Sam.
"I know. It's weird, right? Go," Sam said, returning Gwen's wave. "Whatever freaky thing that's gonna happen next will wait a couple of hours. It's Christmas, Dean."
Dean huffed a long-suffering breath and smiled at his brother. "You're such a girl."
"Shut up and get down the driveway before she leaves," Sam said, giving his brother a shove.
"Alright, alright. I'm going," Dean said, sauntering toward Gwen. He looked over his shoulder. "Bitch."
"Jerk," Sam replied, without hesitation.
He sniffed and shrugged into his jacket. Screw watching Dean walk off into the sunset with the girl; it was freaking cold. Rubbing the tip of his nose to warm it, Sam walked back into the motel room, stretching out on the bed and watched the end of It's a Wonderful Life.
I know it was short and kinda harried at the end, but I figured why drag it out?
I hope you enjoyed it, regardless of its flaws and the number of times the word 'Christmas' is used. lol