Here There Be Monsters

(c)2006 gekizetsu

_____________


For a prompt for the spn_halloween challenge:Futurefic in which either or both of the boys take their kids trick-or-treating. Bonus points if Dean takes Sam's kids trick-or-treating and brings them back full of candy and stories about that monster Uncle Dean shot, Daddy, you should have seen it, it was awesome!

This also falls into the Salvation AU. Humor, horror, cursing, wee!Winchesters, angst, kid-silliness.


-|-


Halloween, 2023



Dean didn’t always check to see who it was when he answered the phone. “Winchester,” he said, balancing fourteen case files in one arm and readjusting a duffel full of a fake teaching skeleton over the other shoulder as he left his building. “Speak.”


“Your phone skills?” Sam said. “They never fail to impress me, Dean.”


“Shit, what do you want, a full introduction?” Dean said, shoving an outer door open with one foot. “Everything okay?”


“I don’t just call you for disasters,” Sam said, looking at his watch. “Or favors, although I’m calling for one now.”


“It’s Halloween,” Dean said. “You know that, right?” His tone suggested that whatever it was, it had better not be something that would screw up a night of trick or treating.


“I noticed,” Sam said drily.


“Dani’s letting me have this one,” Dean said, unable to keep the glee out of his voice as he dropped the duffel next to his truck and fished around for his keys with his free hand. “I’m on my way to get Chuck. She wants to be a zombie, and I promised she could be the grossest zombie ever.”


Sam wasn’t sure who was getting the shorter end of that stick. If Dean’s ex was breaking the custody agreement to let their daughter switch homes for a holiday on a school night, then it was because she knew how much it meant. “You seriously need to stop calling her Chuck.”


“What, because it pisses her off?” Dean said. “It’s good for her. Builds character.”


Sam wanted to ask him who the adult was, but it had never gotten him anywhere before. Charlie was only six but she held her own very well - without resorting to screaming - when her father purposely pushed her buttons.


“Since you’ve got her,” Sam said, “Can you and your zombie stalk my neighborhood tonight? I’m stuck here until at least nine and I knew that if I couldn’t do it, that you’d want - “


“Take all the girls,” Dean said. “Are you asking me to take all the girls? Trick or treating?”


His tone of voice said you’re letting me do this? and it made Sam want to kick himself. He hated Halloween. He appreciated it a lot more since having kids, but he’d been wary of letting the kids overdo it. Jack o’ lanterns, check. Reasonable costumes, check. A short after-dinner run of the neighborhood with him and Sarah close by, and Dean whenever possible, check. But running wild, like he and Dean had, harassing people if they weren’t nailed down on a hunt? No.


He knew that by asking, he was giving Dean permission to step outside the orderly parade Sam had tried to make of the whole thing. Dean had a way of letting the kids think they were running wild without realizing he was in control. Sam had never realized how hard Dean had held on to him until he was about fifteen and Dean just couldn’t hide anymore.


It wasn’t about trust. Sam knew that in his heart. It was that he had to play dad all the time and Dean was the fun one. That was his job as an uncle, and dammit Sam knew that but...


“No,” Sam said. “I was hoping you’d do a little prosteletyzing, because we’re converting to Mormon, Captain Obvious.”


“Your middle age crisis is showing, Sammy,” Dean said. “Cranky. Do they know yet?”


“Sarah’s going to tell them,” Sam said. And they’ll be so excited, so I’m not sure I can stand to listen to it. His own jealousy irked him. “She can probably help you with Charlie’s makeup. You don’t know everything about how much you can safely put on a little girl.”


Dean was silent while he unlocked his truck and tossed everything in.


“Dean?”


“Yeah, I’m here,” Dean said. “Listen, Sam...thanks. I know you hate Halloween.”


Sam stepped hard on his urge to say but I love you and the girls and I want you guys to have fun because Dean would just get aggravated with him. So he said, “Just remember that having a lawyer in the family doesn’t mean a free pass.”


“Even Leigh can outrun the cops now,” Dean said.


“Just come straight to our house once you grab Yeah-Yeah,” Sam said. “And don’t make her mad.”


-|-


Sarah put the phone down and looked at Allie, who was resting her chin morosely on the kitchen counter.


“He has to work, doesn’t he,” Allie said. “But you can still take us, right?”


“I’m sorry, sweetie,” Sarah said. “I would, but you’re all too old now anyway. We’re going to eat carrot sticks and watch Lifetime.”


Allie raised her head. “That’s just not even funny.”


“You can answer the door for other kids,” Sarah said.


Allie stared at her, knowing something was coming.


“Go get ready,” Sarah said. “Dean’s taking you.”


To her credit, Allie kept her poker face. But she slid off the barstool and walked away, headed for the stairs.


Sarah waited, hands braced on the counter, eyes on the ceiling.


When the screaming started, she shook her head.


-|-


Charlie demonstrated her newest quirk by simply opening the front door without knocking. Christo paced her immediately with a wagging tail, checking her from head to toe. She left the door wide open and walked through the livingroom, past the stairs, and right into the kitchen before Sarah turned from setting out plates and noticed her.


“Trying to scare me?” Sarah said.


Charlie showed Sarah her teeth, several of which were blacked out. The effect was improved by the fact that she was also missing a few naturally. Her gorgeous strawberry-blond curls had been slimed with green-gray God knew what and were spiked out in odd angles from her head. She was wearing an old set of play clothes that had been torn in places and smeared with dirt, fake blood, and more slime. But when she put her arms out for a hug, it was impossible to resist.


“Where’s your dad?”


“I drove myself here,” Charlie said, and her tone was a little too deadpan for a six year old. “Are you going to finish my makeup?”


“Right after dinner,” Sarah said.


Dean came in the open door, tried to fend off the dog, and said, “Why the hell wasn’t the door locked? What do I have to do to get you guys to remember to lock the damn door?”


Charlie rolled her eyes.


Sarah rolled her eyes as well and kissed Dean hello. Then she made him make a salad.


Dinner was, of course, simple and brief by design and full of legs kicking under the table with excitement. The girls ate only what they had to in order to pass inspection. Then Allie cleared the dishes while the other three ran for the stairs.


“Leigh,” Sarah said, “Come all the way back downstairs before you put your costume on.” When Dean raised an eyebrow at her in confusion, she added, “You’ll see. It was their idea.”


When she disappeared upstairs to help with various stages of makeup, Dean did the dishes. He could hear a lot of giggling above him, and again felt that warm hum of contentment he so often got when surrounded with his family. He’d never admit it, of course. He was fairly sure Sam had arranged it on purpose - not to be absent but to let things be different now that none of the girls were little-little anymore.


Eleven year old Allie came down first, sporting some sort of bulky, furry, tawny colored bodysuit. Round nose, whiskers, rounded ears, tail. He didn’t ask her what she was supposed to be; he knew he was supposed to guess. She put paw-gloved hands out for him to take, and they danced a little around the kitchen without saying anything. Smiling was often enough between Sam’s eldest daughter and his brother. A few minutes later, eight year old Mary came down in a black cape and the green face and pointed hat of a traditional witch costume. She got to the kitchen doorway and flung her arms wide, executing a little hop to say ta-da!


“Stunning,” Dean said. “No wand?”


“Mom’s got it,” Mary said.


“She hits people with it,” Allie said matter-of-factly.


“People get in my way,” Mary said.


Charlie slid into the kitchen in her socks, showing them a face colored in grays and browns, eyes ringed in black and cheekbones shaded to hollows. “Am I fugly?”


“Beyond fugly,” Dean said. “I can hardly stand to look at you.”


Thank you.”


They all watched Leigh step off the bottom stair and stand in jeans, sweatshirt and jacket with her arms stretched straight above her head. Sarah came down behind and lowered a large rectangular box over her, helping her put her arms through holes cut in the sides. Leigh walked quickly into the kitchen and sat down, pulling her arms and head in so that there was nothing to look at but a box that had been carefully painted to look like it was wooden. Drawers had been drawn and painted on the front, and little brass pulls had been pushed into place. There was an extra ridge of cardboard glued on the top behind where Leigh’s head was supposed to pop out, cut in a wavy, ornate design.


Dean squinted. It looked like Sarah’s handiwork. Beyond that, he was lost.


Sarah grabbed Mary and Allie and switched their positions in relation to the Leigh-box.


“C’mon,” Allie said. “What am I?” She showed him the fluffed end of her tail.


Ah. “A lion,” he said, and that quick he got it, with a laugh. “Oh, you gotta be kidding. A lion, a witch, and a wardrobe. Who’s idea was this?”


“I did it,” Leigh said, muffled by the box.


“You’d think we were related or something,” Dean said. “Bunch of smartasses.”


Armed with glow sticks, and bags they’d decorated themselves, the girls crowded out the door, then spent time jostling on the patio while Dean and Sarah stared at each other. Sarah was trying not to smile, but like always, her eyes crinkled a little at the corners and gave her away.


“You sure you don’t want to come along?” Dean said.


Sarah did smile, then. “This is all you,” she said.


“Keep the doors locked,” Dean said.


“Christo will guard me just fine,” Sarah said. “Quit worrying. You kids stay together.”


“Allie will guard me just fine,” Dean said. “But when that one nice old guy up the street wants to touch me and show me his puppy, that’s okay, right?”


All he got for that was a caress along his jaw with the backs of Sarah’s fingers.


She watched them get out to the driveway and pause. After a moment, Dean got down on one knee and the four girls grouped around him in a half-circle, still and silent. Their attention was a nearly tangible thing; there was no fidgeting. She watched Dean’s hands move as he described something to them, or gave them an itinerary, or decried Milky Way over Snickers, it didn’t matter what it was. The five people in her driveway were hers and ridiculously enthralled with each other, and that was good enough.


-|-


They walked in a loose group, spread out along the street.


“Let’s go to every neighborhood in the world,” Leigh said.


“I’m not Santa,” Dean said, tapping his fingers along the side of the wardrobe-costume. “Can’t fit the whole world into one night.”


“Last year the first house gave out the shit candy,” Charlie said.


“Charlotte,” Dean warned.


“I’m just saying, let’s not go there,” Charlie said. “Uncle Sam took us this way last year, it’s the yellow house on the corner, and it was Sweet Tarts.” She said it in such a way as to indicate that Sweet Tarts were toxic.


“It’s free!” Mary said.


“It’s shit,” Charlie said.


“Chuck,” Dean said, “Not one more.”


Don’t call me that,” Charlie said, all trace of humor gone from her voice.


“Then stop saying shit,” Dean said.


“Stop saying shit, Chuck,” Allie said.


Don’t,” Charlie said, the beginnings of genuine anger in her tone.


“Cut it out, you two,” Dean said. “You guys start with the yellow house on the corner, and if they don’t give out the good stuff, then we’ll show them what happens to people who don’t give out the good stuff.”


All four girls took off running.


“Don’t leave the wardrobe behind!” Dean yelled. Leigh was not exactly having an easy time keeping her balance, and he foresaw a turtle-like mishap in their future.


Luckily, the Yellow House People were giving out Neccos. Their downfall would have to come at a later time.


Fourteen houses later, it was fully dark and Leigh fell into someone’s landscaping and flailed around until Dean righted her and reattached her more ornate decorations.


Five houses after that they reached a dead end one street over after cutting between houses. The girls waved their glow sticks in the darkness between houses and streetlights, watching a small group of older kids go by on the street they’d left.


Ahead of them, something human-sized moved out of the bushes by a brush fence marking the dead end, and hunched behind a hedge.


Dean snapped his fingers, and all four girls froze to look at him. “Back the other way,” he said. Whatever it was, it hadn’t been human and he knew it, and there was zero chance of a confrontation on his part with four girls in tow. He would be leaving someone else and their kids - or maybe just their kids, since a lot of parents let them out alone - to find out what it was.


Dammit.


“Can’t I go anywhere and not run into stuff?” Dean asked no one in particular.


“No,” Charlie said. “What is it?”


“Nothing,” Dean said. “Allie, do you have a friend in one of these houses?”


“Yeah, but you’re so not dropping us off,” Allie said. “You saw something cool, didn’t you. Is it someone on America’s Most Wanted?”


They cut back through and reached the street they’d just been on. An adult dressed as a circus clown went by with two little vampires in tow, and Dean narrowed his eyes at them in disapproval. He couldn’t just take the girls home and come back. It’d be gone by then and it wasn’t fair to ruin a good Halloween for them anyway.


“Cool is such a relative term,” Dean said. “How about if you guys park it on one of these doorsteps here, for a minute, catch your breath - “


“You’re going to shoot somebody,” Charlie said in a monotone.


“Not necess - “


“What if it’s just a guy in a costume?” Mary said, wringing small green-painted witch hands. “And you go to jail? We’ll never see you.”


“Real monsters come out on Halloween because then no one sees them,” Leigh chimed in. “It’s their only chance to eat little kids without being caught.”


“You guys don’t really believe in monsters,” Dean said cautiously. Where were they getting these ideas? “I think it’s just a rabid dog, or something, and I need to check it out. So -“


While they were standing on the sidewalk holding an active dialect on Dean-as-monster-killer, Dean’s problem became moot when, half a block down, something came out of the bushes and grabbed the clown.


Clown and vampires began screaming in tandem, and for the barest instant Dean debated just allowing one less clown in the world. But. Kids.


He grabbed Allie by the scruff of her lion-suit and said, “Nearest house, now,” then he was running with his gun out and not looking back, knowing Allie would do exactly as she was told. Something gray and squatly twisted but humanoid was dropping the clown to the sidewalk and going for smaller, easier prey, grabbing the littler vampire by the neck while the slightly larger sibling-vampire struck at it in panic. Before the adult could get up, Dean was shouting for the older kid to let go and get down...then didn’t have to. Whatever it was slapped the kid away and tumbled him into the street as it started to drag the other away.


Dean stopped roughly twenty yards away, gun at arm’s length and shoulder height, hands steady, and centered down the barrel right on the thing’s head. Three shots, kill shot and two more to be sure, all three blowing creature-crap all over the kid the thing still held. He heard Mary scream over the top of everything else, and he knew it was because of the gun and not the situation. Allie had them on the nearest doorstep and would have forced the others, even Charlie, to turn their faces away, would know instinctively to protect the younger girls.


Whatever it was, it dropped the kid onto the sidewalk and fell back into the bushes, long-toed feet twitching against the pavement. The adult was back on his or her feet and was scooping both vampires up, backing away.


Gun still trained in the thing’s direction, Dean approached and said, “Everybody okay?”


“I think so,” the clown said, sounding anything but okay. His bright red clown wig was on the sidewalk looking like it might need to be shot a couple of times for good measure.


Dean used a foot to stomp the bushes down a little and looked at gray, folded, hairless skin and clawed fingers and toes that were far too long to be human. Its shattered face wept black ichor into the foliage and beauty bark beneath. The shape and color and toes alone made Dean think it might be a buggane. They got stirred up by too much activity, and Halloween was the only night where damn near everyone was walking the streets at once. He’d have to tell Sam they had distant boggart-cousins in the neighborhood.


“What the hell is it?” the shaken parent said, but Dean ignored him. Other people were converging nearby in rapidly growing numbers, wary of the gun, and he knew someone would have already dialed 911. He was in no mood for the attention, so he trotted back and rounded up his zombie, lion, witch and wardrobe, and hustled them off. Just a rabid dog biting people, nothing to worry about. What the people on the street did with or thought of the thing in the bushes was not his problem. Moving? His problem. Not moving, someone else’s.


-|-


Once the girls were out of costume, they settled on the livingroom floor and divvied up candy, trading and switching out as they felt necessary. Dean and Sarah sat cross-legged on the floor with them, checking for torn or missing wrappers. The girls drank hot cider with cinnamon sticks and kept an eye on It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown playing in the background. Only Mary had needed a little time to calm down. After some cuddling and another explanation about how sometimes dogs got sick and bit people (but their dog never would), her attention was easily diverted elsewhere.


Christo sat close to Dean’s right, watching his hands carefully for a suggestion that any of the treats might be for him.


Once the candy was re-bagged according to its rightful owner and the girls had each chosen two pieces for consumption, they gathered around the TV. Dean looped an arm around Christo, who laid his ears back in affectionate submission and pressed his nose beneath Dean’s chin. Dean and Sarah stared at each other with import and an understanding that he would be giving her the real story as soon as the girls were in bed. Leigh’s excited proclamation of Uncle Dean shot an attack dog! at the door was not accepted at face value based on the look Dean had given Sarah or the look on Allie’s face. Allie had been thoughtful and silent in the face of the other girl’s excitement and distress, and Dean knew she’d seen too much.


He hated that.


Right along with it he hated the inevitable thought that Sam would have taken them a different route. 


-|-


When the three younger girls bunked down together in Mary’s room, still unsettled but too sleepy to argue, Allie sat at the kitchen counter with Dean and Sarah.


“Say what’s on your mind, kid,” Sarah said.


Allie didn’t even so much as kick her feet in midair at the counter like she usually did. She twirled a bit of her dark shoulder-length hair with one finger, cornflower hued eyes on the middle distance. “Monsters are real,” she said with finality.


The adults had no idea what to say. To deny it was a pointless, insulting lie. To confirm meant needing to qualify the statement in too many ways.


Allie raised her eyes to Dean’s. “There are monsters in the world.”


He reached over and covered her small hand with his own. “I’m sorry,” he said seriously.


“Not your fault,” she said. “You killed it, though. They die. Did you always know?”


“Since I was younger than Charlie,” Dean said.


Allie placed her other hand on top of his. “I’m sorry,” she said.


Sarah watched Dean set his jaw in that way that meant he was struggling to keep something down. His eyes brightened regardless and she said, “Not all monsters are real. You need to know that.”


Allie nodded and looked at her mother. “Okay. Can I ask which ones are?”


“We can have that conversation some other time, when your dad is here,” Sarah said. “All of us. But not your sisters, or Charlie. You can’t talk about any of this with them - only us, for now.”


Allie nodded again. “Have you ever killed a monster?”


“Yes,” Sarah said. “With your dad and uncle.”


Allie looked at Dean again. “Is that where you and dad go sometimes? To find monsters. You’re not going fishing.”


Dean nodded. “Not as much as we used to, but when we hear about one, we go find it.”


“Ghosts too?” Allie said.


“What you need to understand,” Dean said, holding her gaze carefully, “Is that anything can be banished or killed. You have nothing to be afraid of. Ever.”


She held her arms out to him, and he lifted her off her barstool and into his lap. She wrapped slender little arms around him and said, “I won’t be afraid. You and Mom and Dad will keep them away. Will I keep them away someday, too?”


Dean hugged her in tight and pressed his face to the top of her head, trying hard not to glance at Sarah. “That’s something we can’t talk about yet. We just want you to know you’re safe.”


That was a lie that hurt most of all, but it was not the time or place to tell an eleven year old that the world was dangerous.


“If you and dad are getting them, there won’t be any left,” Allie said, muffled against his chest. “So there must not be very many. And, you taught me how to shoot. And you guys know all about them, so if I ever see one, you’ll believe me. It’s okay. I’m not afraid.”


Dean screwed his eyes shut tightly, mouth pressed into a line Sarah recognized. She got up and ran a hand down the back of his head before hugging him and Allie from behind.


None of them moved when the front door opened and Sam hollered a greeting before coming to the kitchen doorway. “Hey,” he said.


Allie popped her head up over Dean’s shoulder. “Daddy,” she said excitedly, “Uncle Dean shot a monster and saved a whole family.”


Sam met Sarah’s eyes and got all the confirmation he needed. His shoulders slumped with a moment of mixed dread and relief. Dread that something had so obviously happened, but relief that everyone was so obviously okay.


“So what else is new?” he said.


-|- -|- -|-