Written for the SSA Fanfic Challenge
Reader's Note: Blue Laws means you have some alcohol sale restrictions. Some towns can't sell booze on Sunday, or can't sell it in single servings, or can't sell it past a certain time at night, but SOME towns don't sell it period.
"What do you mean dry county?"
The cashier took a step back from Dean, fingers itching for the baseball bat under the counter. "I'm sorry sir, but we've had the blue laws on the books since forever," he said, leaning in meaningfully, "We're not that kind of town."
"What, the happy kind?" Dean spat, "Our car's in the shop until tomorrow, what're we supposed to do til then?!"
Sam laid a hand on Dean's shoulder and smiled at the man. "I'm sorry, my brother's had a long day."
"Must have," said the cashier, looking sideways at them, "The back of your Chevy's covered in blood."
"Squirrel hunting." said the boys in unison.
"Well if you're bored," he said, his eyes twinkling, "The Christmas pageant's going on at eight! We got an awesome Santa this year, gonna be a real spine-winder!"
Dean rolled his eyes. "Sure thing, I'll just unpack my sweater vest-"
"My daughter's dancing in it," he said, whipping out a wallet photo, "She got to be the Sugar Plum Fairy this year."
"-because watching the Nutcracker on TV just isn't the same as a live performance, right Sammy?" said Dean, taking the picture between his fingers. He'd never wanted to be a leotard so bad in his life.
"That would be great!" said Sam, plucking the photo from Dean's hand before he licked it, "Can you give us directions?"
Half an hour later, the boys were idling by the stage entrance of the municipal auditorium, Dean bouncing on the balls of his feet and Sam checking his watch.
"Dean, the show's gonna start, let's just go inside."
"You go ahead." said Dean, scanning the ticker-holders for the babe in the photo.
This was not the Wal-Mart crowd. Arriving by horse-drawn carriage, small-nosed women and botoxed dads greeted each other with shoulder hugs. Even Sam, with his wool sweater and long hair tucked under a knit cap, looked halfway respectable, and it made Dean want to shrink behind the scenes. These were not His People.
"I'm not drunk enough for this Sammy. Besides," Dean whispered, "Anything feel...weird?"
Sam narrowed his eyes. "What are you talking about?"
Dean nodded toward a clump of teenagers. Standing straight with their hands folded in front of them, they stood obediently in line for the box office.
"What?" Sam asked.
"That fifteen-year-old boy," said Dean, swallowing bile, "Has a crease in his slacks. He's not texting or spitting or groping the jailbait next to him..."
"These are his formative years!" Dean hissed, loud enough to earn a few dirty looks, "He should be getting high on the fire escape and seducing girls with his deep insight into Tolkien as a Holocaust metaphor! What have they done to the kids in this town?!"
"Look, if you're so weirded out we'll get seats in the back, we can sneak out later," said Sam, eyes flicking as stage hands streamed in and out of the back entrance, "Besides, you don't even know this chick's name."
"Why you so wound up about seeing a pageant?" snapped Dean, "It's not like we ever did Christmas."
Sam stared at Dean's chest, where the amulet used to be. "Right, well..." he said, smiling at the ground, "Stay out of trouble."
Taking his seat just as the lights dimmed, curtains sprang up on a chorus of children all brightly dressed and opening the show with a jaunty carol. Sam tucked his phone in his pocket and nodded at the dad next to him.
"Cute aren't they?"
"Yeah," said Sam, "One of yours?"
The father pointed at two boys on stage left. "We weren't gonna do it this year, but with this new Santa..."
Sam smiled, but his eyebrows drew down. "So I've heard. Was the last Santa that bad?"
"He was alright come the holiday season, but...he didn't exactly set a good example the rest of the year," he said, his glasses sliding to the tip of his nose, "We had to get rid of him."
Sam pretended like he understood, and looked up as a family tried to step over his ungainly legs.
"Sorry, excuse us!" said the mom, right as a toddler dumped the contents of his sippy cup all over Sam's lap. Sam lept up to brush it off, and the sudden height difference between him, the stranger from out of town and the mother with babe in arms, caused her to stiffen in alarm.
"It's no problem," he assured her, holding up his hands and realizing too late that he hadn't scrubbed the monster blood from his nails, "I'll just grab some paper towels."
She nodded warily, and Sam rushed off to the men's room.
Meanwhile, Dean made small talk with the sound guy, checking his phone and doing his best impression of a bored stagehand, when he heard someone cry for help. Snapping his phone shut, he ran toward the voice, past stacked chairs and music stands, and nearly colliding with two guys covered in mud and pushing something foul in a wheelbarrow. He wheeled around, wiping dirt off his sleeve and thinking it smelled familiar, when he heard the voice again from one of the dressing rooms.
He knocked twice. "Hello?"
"Oh can you come in?" said a girl, "I can't...quite..."
The door swung in, and the girl from the cashier's photo arched her back in a semi-transparent fairy costume, one arm twisted behind her so that Dean had a glorious shot of side-boob. "Can you zip me up?"
Dean smiled. "Sure thing," he said, as she gathered her hair up for him, "You go on soon?"
"Right after the next act," she said, fixing her bun with a rubber hand as she walked ahead of him towards the stage, "Thanks, um..."
"Dean," he said, hypnotized by her hips when he noticed a shovel leaning up against the wall encrusted with dirt, "Hey, uh, no offense, but I saw two of your guys rush past with something, did somebody hit a dog?"
She peeked between the curtains, and smiled at him over her shoulder. "Come and see."
"Ho ho ho!" said a booming baritone from the stage, and Dean leaned in closer. Dean had never really grown up with Christmas as a kid. Sure, he'd had Sam, but the details, the tree, the gift-wrap, the smell of baking cookies, were always missing, and as Santa tweaked tiny noses and pressed candy canes into their outstretched hands, and Dean pouted so hard the frown lines bit into his chin.
"Good evening boys and girls!" shouted Santa, "Have you all been good this year?"
"Yes!" shouted the audience.
"Oh now, I know that someone here hasn't been behaving," he said, wagging an admonishing finger as the filthy stagehands brought in the wheelbarrow, the load wrapped in a sleeping bag and gently dripping blood on the floor, "Who could it be?"
Dean drew back. "What the hell's in that wheelbarrow?"
The girl shushed him. "Quiet, it's about to start."
Back in the men's room, Sam soaped up his hands and stared at his reflection. A long line of men waited by the door, chatting amiably and looking like they'd walked straight out of a GOP convention. What the hell am I doing here? he thought, yanking off the knit cap and running wet fingers thru his hair.
At that moment, a teenage boy and his father exited the stalls simultaneously, a look of dawning horror in their eyes as they beheld Sam.
"Papa look!" cried the boy, raising a trembling finger, "Hippies!"
"Don't worry!" said the father, pushing his son aside as he cracked his knuckles, the other men quietly gathering behind him, "I've got the measure of him!"
The audience tittered knowingly, and Santa reached inside his velvet sack.
"Does the accused have anything to say in his defense?"
At his signal, the elf girl unzipped the sleeping bag. Dead at least a week, head swiveling on a broken neck, the dead Santa sported a teardrop tattoo and the hardy build of a blue collar worker.
"Ooooo the shame!" said the elf girl out of the corner of her mouth, as the two stagehands manipulated the dead man's jaw like a ventriloquist's dummy, "What has become of me?"
"Oh ho! Certain Santas have been very naughty! Darling," he said, opening his hand to another buxom young elf standing in the wings, "Would you be so kind as to read the accused's testimony?"
The elf unfurled a scroll and began to read aloud.
"I, Arthur Q. Fickling, do stand accused of..." said the elf, as Santa flourished an old vinyl record from his sack, "...distributing incendiary music to impressionable youths!"
Dean squinted. The slipcase showed a man in lederhosen playing the accordion, with a sticker at the bottom reading, "PARENTAL WARNING: CONTAINS EXPLICIT POLKA". The audience tutted and shook their heads. The elf read on.
"Farting in church!"
"Scribbling swear words on the men's room door!"
"Making hooch out of bread mold and Kool-Aid!"
"Loitering in the IHOP with loose women!"
"And in general," said Santa with grim finality, "Being an unsavory character of low breeding."
"Holy fucking shit, said Dean, not realizing he was thinking out loud, "Is this guy for real?!"
The stage went silent. Slowly, like vultures who'd just heard a kitten's death rattle, every head in the auditorium turned to look at him. "Did you," said the cashier's daughter incredulously, right before rough hands came down on Dean's shoulders, "Just say a swear word?"
Swinging the end of his boot into the last man's ribcage, Sam pushed his hair out of his eyes and surveyed the men's room. Most of them of them were down, but the teenager had run out to call the cops, and Dean could be anywhere in the building. Sliding out the window, Sam crept along the edge of the parking lot, quietly texting an SOS to Dean.
"Come on, pick up pick up." he muttered, huddled behind the dumpster. If Dean didn't answer in another five minutes...he looked around for a car to steal, but the lot was empty save for the carriage horses steaming in the night air.
A noise came from within the building, and Sam craned his head to look thru the window. "Wow Dean, perfect timing." he said, feeling for his gun and wondering if he had enough bullets. He was about to run inside when he looked at the horses, and an idea sprang into his head.
Dean smirked at one of the elf goons pinning his arms behind him. "I almost came in that same outfit," he said, eyes flicking at the striped tights, "Man that would've been embarrassing."
Santa put his hands on his hips. "My work is never done I see."
"Come on man, I don't even live here," said Dean, pointedly not looking at the corpse, "Let me go and you'll never see me again, Scout's honor."
"No no," said Santa, taking a step closer, "I'd be doing everyone else a disservice by letting you go free."
"I'm not...so bad," Dean faltered, as the stage hands closed in on him, "Look I'm sorry for messing up your show. You think I deserve a night in jail, I won't fight, I'll go real quiet-like."
"Jail's too good for him!" said someone in the audience.
"Burnin's too good for him!" said another.
"Drownin's too good for him!"
One of the chorus girls, a pig-tailed cherub missing her two front teeth, stepped out and pointed at him. "Hang him!"
A rope came down around his neck, and no matter how Dean fought he could not slip away from his captors. Sammy where are you? he thought, as he was stood on a barstool and the rope slung over the rafters.
Santa took Dean's face in his hand, a wicked glitter in his eyes. "Don't worry," he said, reading his thoughts, "We'll get to your brother soon enough."
The goon holding onto Dean guffawed. "That long-haired hippie's your brother? Anyone ever tell you," he said, his lips curling obscenely, "Your brother looks like a girl?"
A shot rang out, and the goon doubled over in pain, wailing as blood bloomed on his pointed slipper. A voice boomed from the balcony.
"Anyone ever tell you," said Sam, astride a black horse, his face shadowed as the smoke drifted from his gun barrel, "You squeal like Miss Piggy?"
With a lusty cry, he dug his heels into the horse's side and vaulted into the arena, charging up the center of the aisles and shooting into the air until frightened patrons scattered in all directions.
"Dean!" he shouted, taking careful aim and snapping the rope in twain with a single shot. Once free, Dean began swinging at his would-be attackers, crushing teeth and eye sockets in his wake.
But he was outnumbered, and a knock to the head sent him to the floor, a shiny black boot pressed against his chest. Santa withdrew a handgun from within his fur-trimmed coat, pointing it between Dean's eyes.
"You might be able to fight these losers, but you ain't getting out of here," said Santa, a tall, lean shadow creeping up behind him, "Without going thru me."
Dean squinched his eyes shut, right as something cracked and Santa fell full-length on top of him. Dean opened his eyes and saw Sam, panting with half a plastic candy cane in his hand, the horse whinnying beneath him.
"Come on," huffed Sam, tossing the bloody candy cane aside and extending his hand to Dean, "The cops'll be here any second."
Twenty-four hours and three states later, Dean was wrapped up in a hotel blanket watching Telemundo with a hot water bottle balanced on his head. He was still in a fog from the painkillers, but smiled dreamily when Sam scooted onto the bed with a brown paper bag and a package of bendy straws.
"Yeah yeah," said Sam, smiling as Dean sipped whiskey from a plastic cup, "Merry Christmas to you too."