A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
By Alone Dreaming
Rating: PG-13 (for strong language and blood)
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural. If I did, they would've said yes by now.
Warnings: A nasty boo-boo, strong, strong language, generally confusing misplacement of timelines and complete disregard of a few of the more recent time travelling episodes
Author's Note: I just like to scribble in this genre every now and again as I work on my other stories. My style here is very different from my style elsewhere but it's fun to play with. This story was conceived and penned (originally) long before Castiel, time travelling, and any revelations about Mary Winchester's past. Enjoy with the knowledge that I self-beta and often miss things as I re-read.
Mary Winchester pulls into the driveway with her minivan, parking center because John's taken to parking on the street. The engine coughs a bit as she turns it off and she's reminded that this car, while a great thought, probably will cost more to upkeep than it's worth. Honestly, she can wait until John gets home to do chores, and if not, she can have someone else pick things up for her. She opens the door and stares at the slight slope of the drive, judging distances before lowering herself down. Yeah, she's getting a little too pregnant to be doing much anyway.
"Need a hand, beautiful?"
She smiles despite herself and lets him take her hand as she stabilizes. He flashes a grin her way, boyish, flirting and, completely, harmless. "Well, from a handsome man, anytime."
"Aw, making me blush, Mrs. W," he says, his skin belying the exact opposite. Without asking her, he opens the backseat up. "Hey, big man!"
Dean, who's been quiet up until now, starts squirming in his seat. He's every bit of wild three and wants to move all the time. "Out, out!"
"Of course! You're being good for your Mom, right?" He swoops in to remove the seat belt while Mary waddles towards the back of the car. Her smile broadens as the conversation continues.
"Always good for, Mommy," her child insists as he squiggles out of the car. "Always! She's gonna have my little brother soon."
"Yeah, I've heard! You picked out his name yet?"
"Sam-yew-l," the hyper-pronunciation holds a slight lisp. "Right, Mommy?"
She peers around at him. "Yes, that's right. Here—come help me with—"
"Oh no, Mrs. W," he says, closing the door behind him. "I'll get it for you. Dean here's going to take you inside and get you something to drink, aren't ya?" When the child looks ready to protest, he continues, "Because that way, once we get the groceries put up, you can help me weed the Emersons' garden and I'll get you some nice worms."
The light flickers on in Dean's eyes and she has to repress a groan. She responds to his wink with an eye roll—that's smashed worms on the porch again—and let's Dean lead her inside. As she takes her time, she watches him out of the corner of her eye, slinging bags onto his arms, his movements calculated but non-offensive. Just the local trademan, he always states, as he mows lawns, and repairs houses, and looks at cars, and helps little old ladies cross the street. No one suspects, except her, that he's up to something else; but she's seen him hauling around bags of salt and lining the gardens, saying it's to keep away slugs, and dragging about bottles of water, saying he's just washing up paint. She knows better though, can see the signs, hasn't missed the tattoo on his chest when he's mowing the lawn, notes how he tucks a rosary in his pocket. After all, she's been raised this way. But she's left it all behind her so she doesn't say anything to John, who's taken quite a shine to him; she just watches and waits.
Dean gets her a cup of water and then rushes out to help him with the groceries. He totters back with the bread in his tiny arms while the "tradesman" takes everything else over to the counter. His shirt has rings of sweat on it, showing how long his day's been already. Everyone on the street pays him a bit to keep things neat and tidy, enough that he makes an okay living and the neighborhood stays fresh and clean. He does big things, little things and plain nice things—like taking Dean out to play so she can have a break or getting Mr. Cuddlemuffin, Mrs. Perkins cat, out of a tree.
"I'll put everything away," she insists, standing up. The baby kicks and she pauses, letting her hand fall on her stomach. "You boys get out of my kitchen."
"Yes'm," he says, bowing. "Come on, big man."
"Not before I get a kiss," she leans over just a little and Dean stands on his tiptoes so he can plant a sloppy one on her cheek. "You be good." The boy shoots out the door, the screen slamming behind him, while he follows at a slower pace. "You will be joining us for dinner, right?"
"If you'll have me, Mrs. W," he replies with a grin.
She watches him go, his strangely fitting jeans and shirt for a band she's never heard of and wonders who he is really. He goes by the name Jimmy Hendrix but no one believes him. At first, the pseudonym caused mistrust but now, everyone just accepts he's hiding from his past. He's paid in cash, he does a good job and he's taken care of the neighborhood. The stay at home moms, which she's part of (she still can't believe it sometimes), feel more comfortable with a strapping young man wandering about.
Still, she makes sure John's shotgun is always loaded and nearby. Just in case.
She puts away the groceries, starts dinner, takes a seat every now and again because her back hurts. Her eyes stray to the window when she's not stirring sauce and preparing garlic bread. From her vantage point, she can just make out a big shape and little shape wandering a distant yard. The big shape works with tools while the little one carries around a bucket. She reminds herself that he's never done anything untrustworthy and that, if anything, he's protecting them all. She tells herself that John's a good judge of character and he adores Jimmy. But the roiling pit of her stomach tells her that there is something off here.
Her thoughts almost cause her to burn the sauce and she forces herself back to it. The door opens and closes, and she hears the familiar gait of her husband. Arms wrap around her and a kiss lands on her cheek. She smells oil and sweat with aftershave which should be disgusting but is absolutely wonderful. His chin rests on her shoulder, his breath on the junction of her neck, his warmth reminding her that she's safe, for now, if not forever.
"How's my girl?" he asks, staring down at the spaghetti.
"Tired," she answers, honestly. "But good. How's my man?"
"Tired, but good," he returns, kissing her again. "Why don't you sit down and let me finish?"
She lets out a huff of annoyance but gives up her place at the stove. Independence is something she's always had and she doesn't want to give it up; but her sore feet demand rest so she lets him settle her in a chair.
"So, where's my boy?" he asks, peeking at the garlic bread.
"With Jimmy," she says, sipping at the water and knowing soon she's going to be in the bathroom.
John pulls out the garlic bread. "Digging up worms?"
"What else? Getting him all muddy so that we'll have to bathe him before dinner."
"Good for him," John says, checking the pasta. He smiles, "Good role model for him."
She wants to argue, wants to say that he has no idea what this Jimmy might be capable of, wants to tell him all about demons and witchcraft. But that's behind her, "Yes, I suppose so."
"Now, Mary," he begins.
"I know, John."
His lips twist a little wryly and he peers out the window.
The change in his face is instantaneous. One moment, he is her calm, gentle husband, a man with power but control. The next, he's the warrior who fought in the war, all of the raw energy at the surface. He dives under the sink, dragging out the shotgun, eyes wild and she jerks out of her chair, hobbling to the window to see what's going on. Her heart starts thrumming violently against her ribs, her head starts to feel light, her vision blurs.
"Stay here," John shouts somewhere in the distance as he flings himself over the threshold but she's focused on the horror unfolding before her.
Dean's screaming, cowering behind Jimmy. Jimmy has one arm tossed back around him in a protective manner while the other arm is outstretched with some sort of bottle in it. Before the two of them, at least three feet at the shoulder, crouches a beast, black, muscular and vicious. She knows what it is without seeing its face, without any further investigation; black dog, her mind screeches, black dog! And it's coming after her baby; she should've never let him near a hunter. She should've known better.
She staggers out of the house after John, who has the shotgun leveled as he's running, trying to get a clear shot. Those bullets won't stop it though—she tries to call this out to him—only make it angrier. The holy water Jimmy has in hand won't stop it either, though it may deter it long enough to get Dean to safety. She stops, gasping, her chest tight with panic and is helpless to stop John as he continues his advance. No, she can't lose him, lose them both, not to this; she's worked too hard to build her normal life to lose it to this.
John pulls the trigger, a barking sound filling the air. The dog lunges at the same moment, taking the blast at the hip. The momentum throws the jump off slightly so that instead of hitting Jimmy's throat, the dog's fangs latch onto his shoulder. Dean screams, Jimmy shouts and a mass of bodies go down. John adds his own war call to the din and she's aware of the neighbors coming out. She has to sit down, now, she thinks dizzily, sinking onto the curb. No, wait, she has to act. Her mind spins and the bodies before her eyes blur into a mass of black, blood and wails. No, no, no becomes a mantra in her mind. No, not her baby, not her husband, not her new, wonderful life; not like this.
A ghostly howl echoes through the air and the black dog shoots away down the street, pursued by Jack Peterson and his two sons. Someone has a hand on her shoulder and she manages to lift her head enough to see Marjory Jackson next to her, a hand over her mouth. She has to get up, has to make sure Dean's okay, but she can't get her legs to work. From her position, she cannot separate John from Jimmy from her baby and it's making it hard for her to breath. Her heart's in her mouth.
"Help me up," she gasps, pressing her hand over Marjory's. "Please, help me up."
Marjory does it, trying to support her when she gets to her feet, but she's off too quickly for her friend. She stumbles, staggers but gets close enough to see John cradling Dean close, the shotgun at his feet. Jimmy's lying there, too, but she only has eyes for her boys, her wonderful boys. Her arms latch around the both of them when she reaches them. Dean's sobbing softly, but he looks okay, unhurt, just scared. John locks eyes with her, not his normal softness, but the harsh darkness of the military and presses their child into her arms. Then he drops down next to Jimmy, who, she notices for the first time, is lying twisting and gasping on the ground. His shoulder doesn't look like a shoulder anymore, crushed and bloodied and raw; she tries to make sure Dean doesn't see it but can barely look away from it herself.
"Hey, kid," John's saying, dragging off his jacket. "Easy does it." Then, at the top of his lungs, "Somebody call a goddamn ambulance!" Then back to Jimmy, "Easy does it there. Easy."
"Oh shit," Jimmy whimpers between gritted teeth. "Oh shit, Dad, it hurts."
John's brow crinkles in concern. "I know, but it's gonna be okay. You're a damn hero, right? Heroes survive."
"R-right," he hisses between clenched teeth. "Oh, fuck, shit. God, Dad, hurts. Hurts. Fuck."
Delirious, she thinks, wound needs to be cleansed, she thinks, but her first priority is shushing Dean. She cradles him and makes soothing sounds which she cannot force heart into and tells him, "It's okay, baby, it's okay. Momma's here. I've got you."
"The doggie was mean," he cries. "The doggie tried to bite!"
"I know, baby, I know," she soothes. "It was a bad doggie." And not a real dog at all, she thinks. She hopes that the Peterson men don't actually catch up to it because whatever they have on hand won't be able to take it down. They'll end up like Jimmy or worse.
"Mary, Mary," Jenna Peterson's at her side. "Let's sit down." Then, sturdy, firm, under control, as always, "John, an ambulance is coming. What do you need?"
John looks up. "Towels, Jen." And then he has his attention on Jimmy. "Hey, kid, stay with me. You fall asleep and you don't get dinner."
"F-fuck..." gasps Jimmy. "...dinner...S-since when d-do you cook?"
"Hey, now, that's my wife's cooking you're talking about," John keeps the banter going, even as Jenna's pulling her away. "Last time I checked, you loved garlic bread."
Jimmy's throat's swallowing frantically. "M-mom's here?" His head turns to the side and their eyes meet. "M-mom?"
"Mary, let's go sit," Jenna insists but she's fixated on those eyes, green, piercing and completely lucid.
"Mom?" he says again, voice fading. She recognizes that gaze, after months of staring at it and not thinking anything of it, because those eyes are the same as the ones that look at her adoringly as she tucks Dean into bed. Her heart speeds up faster.
John moves between them and Jenna leads her so she's sitting on the Peterson's front porch, rocking her baby. Her ears can still pick up the moans and comforts coming from the direction of Jimmy and John.
"Dad, Mom's here," Jimmy keeps saying, as though he's amazed, as though she's gone somewhere.
"Jim, you know who I am?" John's voice remains low, gentle, soothing; she wonders how many men he spoke to this way on the battlefield.
"Fuck it. Jen? The towels?"
"I've got them, here."
"You're gonna be okay, Jim."
"Mommy?" Dean's voice is quiet, meek, not at all like the headstrong child she's used to. She looks at him.
She swallows hard. "Yes, baby?"
"I dropped my worms."
Biting her lip, she holds him closer, tighter and whispers, "So have I, baby, so have I."