AN: Thank you to everyone who read and reviewed Carbon Copy! Here is the second oneshot in this little universe. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own either Supernatural or Dark Angel.
The Church of Apple Pie
It starts with a simple, off-hand comment.
"Pizza," Dean moans happily around his last mouthful of the stuff. "Best thing to come out of Italy since ever. Seriously."
Alec grins at him, his own mouth overflowing with Maro's Meatlover's Double Delux, and Sam rolls his eyes at the pair of them. Honestly. It was hard enough keeping one of them healthy, but now he's got to deal with two people who start having withdrawals if they don't get their daily dose of deep-fried, fat-coated, high-sugar-content junk food.
"Best food ever," Alec agrees cheerfully, bouncing a little on the bed of their most recent cheap-ass motel, and it's times like these that Sam can temporarily forget that Alec is a genetically-enhanced, government-grown child soldier. Like this – bouncing happily on Dean's mattress with grease-coated hands, a cheerful grin and a belly full of pizza – Alec could pass for a normal kid.
"Best food ever?" Dean echoes, wiping his hands against his jeans, and then he shakes his head. "Nah, not quite. I mean – pizza's good, but it's not that good. Pie, on the other hand... Pie is the best food ever."
At that, Sam hides his smile by taking another bite of his own pizza, because of course pie is the best food ever. Pie, in Dean's opinion, transcends categories. It's the best food of all time, certainly, but let's not limit this to food. Sam's pretty sure that pie ranks second on Dean's list of Best Things Ever, Period, and the only the only thing that beats pie is the Impala (and even then sometimes Sam thinks that depends on how hungry Dean is or how long it's been since he last ate pie).
Alec quicks his head to the side, looking like a (no pun intended) curious kitten.
"You keep referencing pie like it's some kind of, I dunno, deity or something," he says. "What is it?"
Sam tries to smother his laughter – he really tries – but he doesn't quite manage it because Dean looks like someone just waltzed up to him and said, "Impalas? Yeah, they're some kind of African deer, aren't they?"
But then Sam realises that Alec has never tasted pie. Doesn't even know what pie is. And, while not half as mind-bogglingly shocking as Dean's face is suggesting it is, it does serve as a reminder that the 'normal kid' who was sitting on the bed a moment ago doesn't actually exist.
He doesn't actually exist, because Alec is not and never has been a normal kid, and likely won't ever be one, no matter how much Sam and Dean try to teach him to be.
Alec's a genetically-enhanced, government-grown child soldier for whom pancakes and pizza are recent discoveries, and who doesn't even know what pie is. And he'll learn, certainly, and his childhood with the Winchesters will be far better than the one Manticore would have offered, but he'll still never be a normal child. Normal children don't know how to handle guns. Normal children don't reach seven years old without knowing what pie and pancakes and pizza are.
Sam doesn't even know what Manticore did feed Alec. It isn't exactly something Alec likes talking about, so the brothers don't know whether the bastards fed their solders on normal food or ration packs or what. Hell, maybe Manticore managed to design a biscuit that was packed with everything the tiny children bodies needed to function and they were given one of those per day, or maybe Manticore didn't feed them at all and just gave them whatever nutrients they needed via an intravenous drip.
What Sam does know is that whatever Manticore fed Alec, pie was not involved.
Dean finally manages to pull his shocked and horrified gaze away from the clone sitting on the bed, and there's determination (buried under the horror) in the expression he directs at Sam.
"Car," he says, pointing towards the door and apparently only capable of one-word sentences. "Now."
"I thought you said you couldn't be bothered leaving the motel for dinner tonight, Dean?" Sam asks, hiding his smirk at Dean's On-A-Mission expression as he marches along.
"This isn't dinner," says a stern Dean (who's regained his ability to speak in slightly longer sentences). He doesn't break his stride as he propels Alec along in front of him, heading unerringly toward the diner doors with Sam on their heels. "This is desert. This is pie."
"This is God, apparently," Alec says, clearly of the amused opinion that Dean is making this whole thing far more dramatic than he should be, and Sam snickers into his hand, because watching a mini-Dean mock big-Dean for making a fuss over pie is just too funny.
"You, shush," Dean says to his clone, pushing open the doors and guiding Alec through with one hand on the back of the kid's neck. "You'll understand in a moment. And you'll wonder how you ever lived before today."
Sam rolls his eyes at Dean's dramatics behind his brother's back, and Alec catches it and snickers.
"You after some dinner, boys?" the waitress asks, coming up to them and swiping three menus off a stack as she approaches.
"Just desert, actually," Dean says, cutting straight to the chase with a smile that would be far more blinding if he still weren't dealing with the shock of finding out that his clone does not know what pie is. Seriously. It's like he's just found out that Alec likes Christina Aguilera or something.
"Well ok," the waitress grins, starting to lead them to a table. "Do we know what we're feeling like? We've got cake, pancakes, crème brulee, the best brownie this side of the continent…"
"What kind of pie do you have?" Dean asks, guiding Alec into a booth and taking the seat next to him, Sam sliding in across from them, and the waitress smiles cheerfully.
"Ooh, a pie fan? Nice choice – we've won county and state awards for our pie. We've got apple pie, and blackcurrant today. Which would you like?"
"The kid and I'll have one of each," Dean says without even thinking about it. "Sammy?"
"I'll have pancakes, thanks," Sam says. "With banana and maple syrup, thanks."
The waitress jots down the order and then glances back to Dean.
"So that's one pancake stack, two apple pies and two blackcurrant pies?" she repeats, and it's clear by her tone that she's wondering if that isn't a little bit too much for two men and one skinny kid to eat, and Alec shoots her a grin that's an exact match to Dean's.
"It's my first pie-eating venture," the kid says and then points a thumb in Dean's direction, "and apparently I'm genetically pre-disposed to worship it, so getting two of them is probably wise."
"Your first pie-eating venture, huh?" the waitress repeats, amused by this little kid and his pretty-decorative-for-a-seven-year-old vocabulary.
"He lived with his mom up til recently," Dean says, using their pre-decided on story. "And she never gave him pie. Ever. Can you believe that?"
The waitress laughs outright at the combined drama the two of them are oozing, and she shares an amused glance with Sam when he chuckles too.
"Well, this is the best place you could have chosen for a First Time Pie Tasting," she assures them, and points to the wall where a series of certificates and awards are hanging. "Like I said – Best In Show for three years running, and we had the Silver for another two before that. You're in good hands."
She sends them a final smile and heads off to the kitchen, and Dean is practically vibrating in his seat with excitement, because, "They've won awards, guys. Awards for pie. This is gonna be awesome."
Dean's unabashed enthusiasm is infectious, and Alec finds himself getting a little restless with excitement himself at the prospect of this mythical pie that he'll soon get to taste.
He doesn't reign in his excitement, like Manticore trained him to; he's only been with the Winchesters a week, but Alec's always been an observant kid, and what he's observed over the last seven days tells him that other children almost never sit still, and they certainly don't sit still if they're excited about something.
So instead of sitting there with a straight back like a good little soldier, Alec allows himself to bounce in his seat and reach out and fiddle with the napkin holder and twist with the number in the middle of the table sideways and then swat Dean's hand away when he tries to put the number back the way it was, and then Alec jerks out of reach of the jabbing finger that tries to poke him in the ribs and then he elbows Dean in the stomach in retaliation. Dean's arm moves like lightning and suddenly Alec's in a headlock, but that's ok, because Alec knows his own body well and Dean's ticklish where Alec's ticklish, so it's only a moment before Dean yelps and shoves Alec and his twitchy fingers away, and Sam's sitting on the other side of the table rolling his eyes (fondly though – Alec can tell the difference already, after just a week) at the two of them and pointing out that they're in public and can't at least one of them behave like a grownup.
"You're grown up enough for all three of us, Sammy," Dean says, and then his hands dive in and try to get past Alec's defences, and it's on all over again.
Sam rolls his eyes again, trying to reign in the smile that's curling his lips, but it's a lost cause. It shouldn't be this much fun to watch his brother and his brother's clone (and he's still getting used to that concept, if he's honest) scuffle with each other like they're both seven, but it is. This sort of scene has been rather a common one these last seven days – one of them poking the other and then it escalating into an all-out war that lasts until one of them manages to pin the other one to the floor.
The whole thing kind of reminds him of his and Dean's prank wars, Sam thinks vaguely, and then he stops cold.
The image of Dean and Alec having a prank war flits suddenly into Sam's brain, and there's not enough mind-bleach in the world to erase that terrifying scene.
Even it stayed between just Alec and Dean, Sam would undoubtedly get caught in the crossfire, but the younger Winchester doesn't even try to kid himself. He knows how a prank war would end, now that Alec's in their lives. Alec and Dean are identical in more ways than they're not – Alec likes what Dean likes and hates what Dean hates – and the one thing that Dean loves above almost all else… is pranking Sam.
The two of them would gang up on him. Sam can see it now. They're both creative and imaginative enough in their own right, and going head to head against just one of them would be scary enough, but Sam knows that if the pranks started flying it wouldn't be long at all before the two of them – drawn together by their mutual love of pranking Sam – would team up, and then nowhere in the world would be safe.
It's a swift decision, and in the back of his mind he knows it won't keep the inevitable at bay for forever, but Sam decides right then and there to do his damnest to never let Alec hear about even the concept of a prank war.
The alternative is, frankly, just a little bit too terrifying to think of right now.
The two potential-pranksters in question remain completely oblivious to Sam's mental panic and subsequent decision, and by the time the youngest Winchester focuses on them again the two of them are a pile of twisted arms and torsos, both of them grinning maniacally as they attempt to pin down the other while simultaneously trying to reach their fingers out to that ticklish spot between the last two ribs.
The whole scuffle has been rather silent, because Alec and Dean both know how to fight without attracting attention, but a few of the other patrons are giving the trio in the booth odd looks despite that, and Sam's just starting to wonder how he can break this up before it escalates further when salvation arrives in the form of a pie-bearing waitress.
"Here you go, boys," the Saviour of the Moment says with a smile, and suddenly Alec and Dean are untangled and sitting straight at attention, and Sam really must remember that trick.
Note To Self – How To Completely Derail Your Brother (and His Clone)'s Attention From Unwanted Activities of Almost Any Description: Offer Him Pie.
The waitress sets her load down on the table – pancakes in front of Sam, and two pies apiece for Dean and Alec, just as ordered – and Dean's practically quivering in his seat right now he's so delighted, eyes flicking between both his slices of pie like he doesn't know where to even start. Alec's eyes are flicking between his own two slices too, but his reflected excitement is tempered with a curious and calculating gaze, like he wants to learn everything he can possibly learn about this mythical food before he even puts it in his mouth.
"Enjoy," the waitress says cheerfully, and the spell is broken.
"Ok," Dean says, all business now, reaching out with both hands as the waitress walks away, and he pulls both the berry pies forward. "We'll start with this one, for two reasons. One, this isn't likely to be as sweet as the apple, and you don't ever want to go from super-sweet pie to less-sweet pie, because it just doesn't work. Always start with the least sweet and work your way up. Your tastebuds adjust to the sweetness and then after that anything less sweet just tastes straight-up sour."
Trust Dean to make eating pie an educational experience, Sam thinks with amusement.
"And the second reason?" Alec asks, his entire attention focussed on Dean as though the guy's a College Professor explaining the meaning of life and Alec is his enraptured student. Well, actually… the enraptured student part isn't far off, Sam thinks, as Alec hangs off Dean's every word.
"The second reason," Dean answers with a grin as he picks up his spoon in preparation, "is because apple pie is the greatest of all the pies. Cherry pie, pumpkin pie, caramel pie… apple pie tops the lot of them. And you always finish with the best. So, berry first, then apple. You follow?"
Alec nods firmly, and Dean pushes the kid's spoon across the table with just a touch of impatience.
"Enough words then, Grasshopper," he says sagely. "Come, and taste the food of the Fountain."
"You know the Fountain of Youth typically refers to a drink, not food, right Dean?" Sam says, but Dean flaps a hand at him.
"Shuddup. Fountain of Youth's mythical. It can be whatever the hell I want it to be. Now shush – you're detracting from the moment."
For the umpteenth time that evening, Sam rolls his eyes in amusement, but dutifully turns to watch their adopted clone take his first ever bite of pie.
Alec is wary and perhaps just a little bit cynical as he cuts the end of the pie off with his spoon and slowly lifts it to his lips, and then – with just the tiniest moment of hesitation – he takes a here-goes-nothing breath and plops it into his mouth.
Sam watches all this like a normal, sane human being, but Dean watches with baited breath and wide eyes, and the oldest Winchester doesn't move an inch as he waits for the verdict from the mini-him sitting by his side.
The verdict's not long in coming.
The chunk of pie goes into Alec's mouth and the kid's lips close around the edge of the spoon, and there's perhaps a one-and-a-half second pause before his eyes go wide with wonder and he makes a muffled noise of surprised delight around the spoon.
Dean's grin is blinding.
"Right?" he asks, and Alec turns his wide-eyed, wondrous gaze to the oldest Winchester.
"Ids-abazig," the clone says around the spoon, and it's like he's forgotten that the spoon's even still there.
Sam's got no clue what the kid just said, but apparently Dean has no trouble translating pie-speak because he laughs a little, nodding.
"Aha," he says triumphantly. "I told you so."
Alec appears to not even register the proud words – the words that both versions of Dean so love saying – as he finally pulls the spoon out of his mouth and starts to chew.
More noises of awe come out of the kid's still-full mouth, and now Sam knows that Dean doesn't just make noises while eating solely to annoy Sam; he's genetically programmed to do it. Sam must remember to cut him a little slack for that. Apparently it's not something he can help.
"Erhmiosh," Alec practically moans around the mouthful of pie. "How'v-I nev'r eadendis eefore?"
"I told you," Dean repeats, a hint of smugness bleeding into his tone now. "Didn't I? Didn't I say you'd wonder how you'd ever lived before now?"
Alec doesn't have the words to answer apparently, and he swallows his first mouthful and then practically dives into the plate in an effort to get his next mouthful of pie as soon as physically possible.
Dean chuckles at his clone and then tugs his own slice closer to him, cutting off a huge chunk with his spoon and somehow managing to fit the almost-obscene amount of pie into his mouth without dropping a single crumb and there's silence for a moment, and then…
"Erhmiosh, 'Ammy," the oldest Winchester moans around his pie a moment later, his eyes huge with delight and awe as he directs an expression of utter bliss at his younger brother. "Ids-abazig."
Sam can't help it. The laughter that bubbles up and out his mouth is loud and unrestrained, because, seriously – these two are hysterical. Usually Dean's obscene noises while eating disgust and irritate Sam, but for some reason, when those same noises are coming first from a seven-year-old, miniaturised version of Dean and then echoed by the original, it's just friggin funny.
Neither of them pay Sam any attention as he laughs at them, instead continuing to shovel pie into their mouths like it's the last food they're going to see for a year, and after a few moments Sam's chuckles taper off enough that he's able to get started on his own desert.
The pancakes are nice, sure, but nowhere near good enough to have him drooling over them like some sort of lunatic, and Sam's never been much of a sweet-tooth anyway. He's not even half-way through his stack when Alec and Dean – in perfect tandem –shove their empty plates away and look at each other with awed delight on their faces.
"That was amazing," Alec says, eyes huge, as though he hadn't even known that such joy could exist in a little pastry-wrapped parcel.
"That was a damn good pie," Dean agrees, nodding. "They totally deserve all those awards."
Alec nods emphatically, and there's silence for a moment, both of them basking in the lingering taste of the berry pie while Sam watches them with no small amount of amusement. And then…
"Apple?" Alec asks, and a grin breaks out across Dean's face.
"Hell yeah," he says, and then it's like Sam's watching a pair of synchronised swimmers with the way they both reach out, and slide the plates of apple pie towards themselves while – in the same smooth movement – they pick their spoons back up and swoop in for the kill.
The apple pie is better than the berry, apparently – if the repeated (and loud) noises of appreciation are anything to go by.
"Dean," Alec says seriously, setting his spoon down on his second empty plate. "I wholeheartedly retract my cynicism. I hereby join the Church of Pie, from this day and forever more. And until my dying moment I shall endeavour to bring more lost and wandering souls to the light, just as you have done for me."
"Welcome to the fold, young one," Dean says, putting a hand on Alec's shoulder, and then the two of them snicker.
"How was everything, boys?" the waitress asks, coming back over and smiling at them as she collects their now-empty plates.
"Amazing," Dean and Alec say in tandem, looking up at her with wide eyes, and the waitress chuckles.
"They always like this?" she asks Sam, whose lips curl up in an amused smile.
"You've no idea," he says.
AN: Hope you enjoyed! Reviews are awesome, and they also serve the purpose of guilt-tripping me into writing more in this verse, so… Review. :)