A/N: This is a one-shot set sometime during Chapter 32/33 of my Prologue 'verse. It didn't really fit into the main story, but I couldn't resist. Hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: I only own what I came up with. Kripke's stuff remains his.

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Winchesters

Jessica was flipping through a book that Mr. Winchester—she couldn't quite bring herself to think of him as John—had handed her, the one he'd said would fill her in on some of the nasties that were part of the Winchester World o' Fun.

Those were her words, of course, not his.

It was early evening, and things were pretty quiet. The twins had been in and out all day, but their father had finally called a halt to their forays outdoors a few hours ago, apparently tired of hearing the screen-door shut time and again. She wasn't really sure where they were now, but the two of them seemed as thick as thieves, so she was pretty sure she wouldn't hear from them for awhile. Sam was reading a book of his own, one he'd picked up from Mr. Singer's study, and he definitely looked more involved in his book than she was in hers.

But really, eww, she thought, grimacing with distaste at the picture of some nasty called a tengu.

As for Mr. Winchester and Mr. Singer, there'd been no sign of them since they disappeared into the study right after dinner, undoubtedly to research the demon that had attacked them. Well, that's what she thought anyway. When she'd asked Sam, he'd mumbled something along the lines "Dad" and "secretive bastard" and had gone back to his book.

And then there's Dean, she thought with a smile, absentmindedly turning the page as she glanced up at the oldest of the Winchester offspring. What can you say about Dean? Besides the fact that he's funny as hell.

She couldn't tell if that was a natural state for him, or if it was caused by the pain medication that Mr. Winchester had made him take half-an-hour or so ago, but she strongly suspected the former. He was staring at the TV with blank eyes, obviously not actually seeing what was on, because he didn't strike her as the type to watch reruns of The Golden Girls.

The Simpsons, yes. The Golden Girls, not so much.

At that moment, Aubrey walked in, the hamster cage held in her hands. And that's when Dean showed the first signs of life he'd shown since dinner-time.

"Oh, hell no," he growled. "You turn your ass back around and take that damn thing outta here."

"Would you relax? I'm not gonna let her get you. Daddy said to bring her in here, because the wheel squeaks and it was gettin' on his nerves."

"Yeah, well there's more than enough room for you to put it somewhere else," Dean argued, his eyes widening as Aubrey set the cage down and actually opened it up, reaching in for the pint-sized rodent.

And here we go again, she thought, putting her book down to watch the fireworks that were no doubt about to ensue. Is it bad that I find the family squabbles so amusing?

Nah, she decided. Not my fault. Only child –makes the family dynamics in a family this size insanely interesting.

"What the hell are you doing?!" Dean was demanding, fighting to sit up as Aubrey picked the hamster up and cradled it in her hands.

"She needs the exercise, D," Aubrey told him rationally, but Jessica was pretty sure she caught a mischievous gleam in the fourteen-year-old's eyes, a gleam that more than suggested she knew exactly what she was doing to her older brother.

"That's what its fucking wheel is for!"

"Aubrey, you're just stirring him up," Sam said, looking up from his book with a pained sigh. "Quit it."

Aubrey didn't reply, ignoring him as she sat down on the floor. Sensing movement from the corner of her eye, Jessica turned to see Dean rearing up off the couch, staggering a bit as he moved towards one of the duffels in the corner of the room, his left arm secured to his body by the sling.

"Dean, what are you doing?" Sam asked, his voice tinged with suspicion.

"You want to know what I'm doing? I'll tell you what I'm doing, Sam—I'm getting my fucking gun out, that's what I'm doing. That thing is out to get me, Sam, and I'm not gonna let it!"

Wow, the pain meds really do make him paranoid, she thought, not really sure whether she should laugh or worry. Sam had tried to tell her, but she hadn't quite gotten the full picture until now. Actually, Sam had added in another few choice adjectives to describe Dean under the influence of pain medication, "paranoid" being only one of them.

And he was totally right about every one of them. But he left out "funny," she thought with a grin.

"Dammit, Aubrey, put her away," Sam said, getting up to intercept Dean as Jessica looked on in, her eyes darting to Aubrey to see if she'd comply.

Should I help or stay out of it?

A split second later, she had determined that staying out of it was probably the better bet. Getting in the middle of Winchester sibling warfare didn't seem like the wisest idea.

"Seriously, I'm not above tattling at this point," Sam told her as he blocked Dean, who was doing his best to push past Sam. "I'll yell for Dad, Aubrey, I swear," Sam went on, grabbing Dean by his good arm as Dean twisted away with a curse.

"You wouldn't," Aubrey said, her eyes narrowing as she evaluated the extent of Sam's threat.

"I would," Sam told her with a nod, eyeballing her even as he tried to steer Dean back towards the couch.

Jessica watched the showdown, waiting to see who'd win, as Sam cocked his eyebrow at Aubrey, the unspoken dare written all over his face. But apparently, Aubrey wasn't much on backing down, either, and she must not have really believed Sam would do it. So it had to come as a complete surprise to her when Sam opened his mouth and hollered.

"Dad! Aubrey's tormenting Dean with the hamster again!"

Jessica burst out laughing, enjoying the chance to see her boyfriend reduced to the tactics of a six-year-old.

So adorably little-boy like. I wouldn't have thought he'd tell on her. Then again…Sam generally means what he says…

"Dang it, Sam!" Aubrey said, rushing back towards the cage with a panicked look on her face, even as Sam shot a successful look his sister before turning his attention back to Dean.

"Sam, let go, dammit! If you don't get your hands off me, I'm gonna kick your ass, busted shoulder or not," Dean told him pointedly.

"Dean, there's no way in hell Dad's gonna let you have a gun right now," Sam said, fighting to grab a hold of Dean without hurting him.

Mr. Winchester appeared in the doorway a few moments later, looking for all the world like a pissed-off grizzly, and Jessica had to admit, it was pretty damn impressive when all movement in the room stopped. His eyes took in the scene pretty quickly, and he frowned as he turned to his youngest.

"Aubrey, you'd best leave that thing in the cage or else you and I are gonna have a problem—I told you to move it, not bother your brother with it. Dean, park your ass on that couch and you settle down. And Sam?"

"Sir?" Sam asked uneasily, looking none too sure about his tattle-tale tactic anymore.

"Nice job."

"What? Really?" Sam asked, obviously not expecting the small bit of praise.

"Yeah," Mr. Winchester told him, eyeing them all critically as his wayward offspring moved to do what they were told. "I'd rather deal with the matter myself than having you and Aubrey tearing up Bobby's living room in a scuffle while your obviously doped up older brother is arming himself against a rodent ambush."

"Oh," Sam said thoughtfully, considering the logic of that as he helped Dean settle back onto the couch with his pillows.

"I want my gun, Sam—you bring it to me," Dean muttered as he allowed Sam to situate the pillow under his shoulder and arm.

"Dean, don't even think about it—you're not getting a gun. And don't ask Sam or Jessica for one, either. Now, I'm trying to do some research," Mr. Winchester said, aiming a stern look at them, "so keep it down. Aubrey, if you're gonna stay in here, leave the hamster in the cage and your brother alone. He needs the rest."

"Yessir. Can I mess with Sam then?" she asked, smiling pertly back at her father, and Jess couldn't help but grin.

"Imp," John said, shaking his head with a slight chuckle. "Go find Braden and leave Dean and Sam in peace. You're giving Jessica a bad impression of the family," he said, winking at Jessica before reaching out and throwing his arm around Aubrey's shoulders, pulling her close affectionately before nudging her towards the door. "Go on now," he told her before turning to Dean with a stern expression.

"Dean, did you hear what I said about you needing to rest?"

"Yessir," Dean mumbled grudgingly.

"I mean it. You keep your ass parked on that couch and don't get up unless you have to use the head, understand?"

He didn't wait for an answer as he turned on his heel and headed back to the study.

But then again, he probably doesn't have to wait for an answer.

No doubt they knew better than to disobey that tone of voice.

"I really like your dad, Sam," Jessica told him after Mr. Winchester had disappeared back into the study. "He seems…sweet. You know, in that gruff-and-tough, macho sort of way."

"Huh. Never heard him described that way before. Most people call him an ass."

"Sam!" Dean broke in irritably, snapping his fingers in Sam's face to get his brother's attention. "Gun, now."

"No way, dude—you heard what Dad said—he said no gun."

"Fine. A knife, then."

"No."

"Dammit, Sam! That thing's still in here! It could get out!"

"It's not going to get out—you'll be fine, Dean" Sam told his older brother with a surprising patience as he plopped back down in his chair and picked up his book.

"You don't know that! You weren't there when it escaped! And we're at Bobby's, Sam! Bobby's! Who knows how many vermin are living in the walls or under the house—if that thing gets loose, it could have creepy rodent sex and give birth to a shitload of mutant hamster-rats!"

And that was it for Jessica. She couldn't hold back the peals of laughter anymore.

It was all just too damn funny.


An hour later, Jessica was idly watching the Winchester twins' hamster, shaking her head in mild amusement as it scurried into the plastic wheel attached to the side of the cage and began to run. Dean's eyes had remained fixated on the small rodent, no doubt to ensure that it didn't escape.

"Hey, Jessie?" he whispered loudly, and hiding a smile she glanced up at him, startled to find him suddenly staring at her speculatively, his eyes gleaming with a strange light. By this point, he was definitely doped up, but infinitely more mellowed out than he had been.

Not that he looks any more lucid now than he did before. If anything, he looks paranoid and blissed out. If that's possible.
"Can I get you something?" she asked, walking over to the couch where he was currently sprawled out, his arm and shoulder supported by a pillow, while another rested against the top of his head—for him to "burrow under" when he finally lost the fight to stay awake, Sam had told her. "Besides a gun, I mean," she added hastily, trying to cut him off at the pass before he got fixated on the gun issue again.

"You see that?" he whispered, casting a guarded look at Sam before re-focusing on her.

"See what?" she asked him, frowning as she looked around the room to see what he could possibly be talking about.

"The mini hell-beast."

Her eyes widened in alarm, as she turned back to look for whatever a hell-beast was.

"Relax, Jess," Sam said dryly as he flipped the page in his book. "He's talking about the hamster."

Ohhhh. Right.

"So, listen," Dean continued, ignoring Sam as he looked straight into her eyes with an alarming intensity. "I was thinkin'..." he drawled, the words emerging in a slur, "an' I realized—the twins don't really know you yet. 's perfect—they'd never suspect you."

"Suspect me of what?" she asked, her confusion only growing as he talked to her.

"Of ganking it," he whispered. "It's brilliant, really. I should've thought of it before."

"Are you asking me to kill your brother and sister's hamster?" she asked him with a disbelieving laugh escaped her. She stared at him with a grin on her face as she shook her head.

"Ah, Dean, c'mon, not again," Sam groaned, but Dean just bulldozed on through his brother's complaint, staring up at her with glazed, eager eyes.

"You make it sound so negative when you say it like that," he told Jessica earnestly. "But, if you're squeamish, you don't have to actually do anything violent. See, I've thought about it—you only gotta play a simple part in all this. Now, Uncle Bobby doesn't have any cats, but he's got this dog, Rumsfeld—he's great, by the way. All you gotta do is take the hell-beast outside to play with Rumsfeld. I won't even tell 'em that it was you. Nobody would ever hafta know. So long as Sammy keeps his mouth shut, o' course," he said, casting a dark, pointed look at his younger brother before turning back to her with a winsome smile.

"Oh, Dean, honey, I'm sorry, but—"

"Wait, don't say no yet! You don't like that idea? That's okay, I've got others," he threw out, sounding to Jess like a car salesman who was desperately tryin' to make a sell.

"Dean, man, give it up—she's not killing the hamster," Sam broke in. "Besides, you know as well as I do that if that hamster dies of anything but natural causes, Dad's gonna know you had something to do with it. And you're under strict orders from dad not to kill or harm the hamster."

"Hah! II got you there, Sammy! Dad just said I'd better not hurt it—he never said I couldn't convince someone else to do it," Dean pointed out, smirking at Sam with a smart-ass grin that had Jessica holding back another laugh. "Now if you don't mind, Samuel, I'm trying to have a conversation with your girlfriend, here, so shut your pie-hole," he continued, turning back to Jessica with a convincing smile.

I wonder just how much of this is the meds and how much of it's just normal Dean?

"Okay, so new plan," he continued earnestly, "I've got some M&Ms in my bag—all you need to do is put a few in the food dish, and problem solved. And there's no pesky evidence left behind either. No one will suspect a thing!"

"You seem to have given this a lot of thought," she said noncommittally, stepping back to settle on Sam's lap, hooking a playful arm around his neck.

"You have no idea," Sam told her, reaching up to toy with a strand of her hair. "He's got a list."

"A list?"

"Yeah, an entire list of ways to kill a hamster. He's been working on it since he was seventeen."

"Wow…How big is the list now, Dean?" she asked, turning to glance at the twenty-four-year-old who was gazing back at her steadfastly.

"I dunno—I quit numbering at some point. And I had to cross out a few—Dad caught wind of 'em, so I couldn't use 'em anymore. Can't let him suspect, you know. So what do you say?" he asked, flashing a winning smile at her.

Mr. Winchester chose that moment to walk in, digging in one of the duffels lining the wall for the journal he kept, but as he was about to pass back through the doorway with the journal in hand, he paused, stopping to look at Dean with a narrow-eyed gaze.

"What are you up to, Dean?" he asked, staring back at his son with a suspicious gaze.

"Why, Dad, I'm sure I don't know what you mean," Dean replied, shrugging his good shoulder, and Jessica couldn't hold back the snort of laughter that escaped her mouth.

"Jessica, is my boy trying to convince you to kill the hamster for him?" the older man asked her, turning the full force of his gaze on her with a knowing expression.

Her jaw dropped, because as stealthy as she knew Mr. Winchester no doubt was, there was no way he could have been listening to their conversation the whole time.

"How did you know?" she asked, intrigued as she stared back at him with amused disbelief.

"Aw, fuck, Jess—he didn't," Dean groaned, dragging the pillow over his head with a muffled curse. "You gave it away!" he complained.

"Yeah, he was guessing," Sam told her, glancing back at his father, who was smirking. "All you did was confirm it for him."

"Oh," she said, wincing before she cast an apologetic look at Dean. "Sorry, Dean."

"Don't feel bad, Jessie-girl," John said, a smile lurking at the corners of his mouth. "I'm just that damn good."

"Yeah, scary good, Mr. Winchester," she said, shaking her head in amusement.

"Have to be—gotta stay at the top of my game if I wanna keep my spawn in line," he said, his smile turning into a full-fledged grin.

And she suspected that truer words had never been spoken, because based on what she'd seen, raising the Winchester brood was no easy task.