Dean's been off his game since he got back from Purgatory. Oh, he's sharp enough, and quick enough, and he gets the job done. But things throw him off, things he knew he could have dealt with a year ago. Like how weird it is to look at humans now and understand that they're just humans -- not something infinitely nastier walking around in a human-shaped meat-suit. Like watching TV late at night and losing the plot because he's thinking about how strange electricity is. Like scouting out a nest of werewolves and getting sidetracked by the smell of fresh-baked cookies.
It's not that he's going crazy, he assures himself. It's just culture shock.
"I'm usually really good at this," Dean tells the woman holding the gun on him. "A year ago, I'd just show up, pop the kid over there with a silver bullet, and be out of here before you made it downstairs." He gestures at the boy with the hand holding the half-eaten stolen cookie, not the hand holding his own gun. He's a little off his rails, but he hasn't gone entirely stupid.
The woman raises her gun anyway, like she's as nervous about the cookie as she is about his Glock. Her hair is tied back from her face with a blue scrunchy, and she's wearing a threadbare blue robe over a cute little pajama shorts set that shows off her long bare legs. A little old for him, Dean judges, but not by much. Maturity alone is an insufficient deterrent. Maturity plus maternal instinct and a twitchy trigger finger is a sure-fire boner-killer.
Slowly -- carefully -- Dean lowers the cookie. He keeps the gun trained on the werewolf. "Let's just all observe how nobody has shot anybody yet," he says. "So far, nobody's having a bad day."
"You're pointing a gun at my son," the woman says coldly. "I'd say that makes this a pretty bad day for all of us." The barrel of her shotgun bobs in warning. "Especially you."
Dean nods. "Fair enough. But in my defense... your kid's a werewolf."
"I know that. That doesn't give you the right to break into my house and threaten him!"
"O...kay." Dean can roll with that. "Let's define our terms. Werewolves are monsters. Monsters kill people. I'm a hunter. I hunt monsters. If you've got a monster in your house, I'm kind of morally obligated to break in and threaten it."
"Him," the werewolf's mom says grimly.
"Whatever. I got to tell you, lady, after the initial freakout, a solid sixty percent of the suburban homeowners I've met have walked away considering me one of the good guys."
"Well, probably the monsters you were hunting weren't their kids!"
The werewolf's head whips around, an incredulous, hurt look in his yellow eyes. "Mom!"
She cuts him a brief glance. "Sorry, Scott. But you are kind of..."
The werewolf -- Scott -- rolls his eyes, which turn from yellow to dark brown as his teenaged indignation reaches a peak. The tufts of hair on his face sink back beneath the skin, and his claws resolve themselves into raggedly bitten fingernails.
"Happy now?" he growls. But it's exactly the kind of growl Dean always got when he made Sam do the dishes, not a wolfy growl at all.
"Look," Dean says. "I've actually got a pretty enlightened outlook on the whole monster deal these days. Maybe we could all just sit down and talk. I would hate to alienate the baker of these really, really awesome cookies by ganking her pet werewolf if it's not totally necessary."
"It's really, really not necessary," Scott says. "I'm like, completely harmless."
Dean drops the cookie, and quicker than thought his backup piece is in his hand, trained on the new kid in the door to the hall. The new kid has a mostly shaved head and a pointy face and isn't a werewolf as far as Dean knows, but it pays to be careful. Missing the cookie already, Dean wiggles his new gun at the new kid. "Who're you?"
"I'm Derek," the kid says firmly, eyes cutting over to Scott in a suspiciously meaningful way. "Scott's friend Stiles called me when he heard all the commotion downstairs, and so of course I said everybody should sit tight and not do anything stupid, because I'd be right over."
Dean frowns. "No offense," he says, "But you don't really look like the kind of guy I'd have on speed dial for ass-kicking."
"No offense," the kid says, "but you're kind of old, and it looks like you've been dining at the Tollhouse a lot lately. I could probably take you."
"Hey!" Dean says, glaring.
"Stiles," Scott says, groaning.
"Scott!" the kid who clearly isn't Derek says, clutching at his non-existent hair. "Oh my god, what is wrong with you?"
"All right!" Mom says loudly, "Everybody calm down!"
Dean wouldn't have expected the Mom Voice to work on him, given his lack of early home training. But apparently it's an instinct, or a genetic memory or something. Like flatworms. Against his will, he finds himself calming right the fuck down.
Not, he reminds himself, that he was all that excited to start with. It's just one werewolf, after all. After Purgatory, one werewolf is barely enough to get him out of bed in the morning.
"I'm calm," he says, bobbing his head reassuringly. "You?"
"I was never not calm," the woman says.
Dean says, "I love that about you."
Scott looks from Dean (smirking) to his mother (blushing) and his eyes pop over to yellow again. "Down, boy," Dean says. "A guy can look, right?"
"Not at my mother!"
"Not while you're pointing a gun at my kid," she says regretfully.
The other kid, Stiles, stares at her open-mouthed. He says, "Seriously? That's how it is? No shooting Scott, but pointing a gun at me is totally cool with you? Thanks. I've only sat at your breakfast table about a billion times in my short and soon-to-be-terminated life, but I suppose that doesn't warrant any concern or loyalty. It's blood or nothing with you people. It's so not fair!"
Dean has spent the last five minutes or so stalling by mouthing off, buying time for Sam to finally check his text messages and get his ass over here for backup and a little light mayhem before bedtime. So when Stiles starts babbling about nothing, apparently for no reason, Dean recognizes the tactic and instantly snaps to full attention. (Two kids and a MILF only rate half his attention these days, even if one of the kids is a werewolf.)
"So this Derek guy," Dean says to Stiles. "He's really on his way over here right now, I take it?"
"Wow, genius, you cracked my clever code," Stiles says.
"About how long would you say it'll take--"
"Not very long at all," a voice says from behind Stiles in the hallway, and then there's Dean, a mom, a kid, a little werewolf, and a seriously fucking huge werewolf, all piled into one tiny kitchen.
The big werewolf is pissed. He's got bright red eyes and he's all furred out, claws unsheathed on both hands. His face is rippled and twisted into a snarl. He steps in front of Stiles and gently pushes him back with one giant -- hand? Paw? Dean's not sure of the proper terminology when they stop halfway between forms, but it's a secondary problem. The primary problem is he's looking at two werewolves, an armed mom and a smartass right now, and while he's not yet out of guns, he's definitely running short on hands to point them with.
"Okay," Dean says. "Before I start evening the odds, can I get a round of names? My internal monologue is getting a little cluttered."
"He's Derek," Stiles says. "Me, you know. That's Scott, that's Scott's mom --"
"That's not my first name, Stiles," Scott's mom snaps.
"Melissa," Stiles says. "Sorry."
"Ms. McCall," Scott growls.
"I'm Dean," Dean says politely, and jerks his head toward the kitchen door, smiling. "And that's Sam."
The kitchen door flies open, glass shattering and falling to the linoleum floor in a bright, cheery clatter. Sam crashes into the kitchen in a far less ninja-like manner than Dean had been hoping for, landing in a sprawl between the refrigerator and the center island. He's bleeding from what appears to be a small boot print on one cheek, and there's a sleek black arrow sticking out of the arm of his jacket. He pops to his feet and scrambles over to stand next to Dean, a position of solidarity that would have a lot more meaning if he weren't completely ass-kicked and unarmed.
Sam tugs at the arrow and wiggles it around. Dean grabs at Sam's arm, scanning for blood. "Are you punctured?"
"I'm fine," Sam says, shaking him off and giving the arrow another frustrated yank. "But this jacket was new."
A tiny girl with flying black hair launches herself through the door and into Scott's arms. He grins, spins her around, and plants a kiss on her adorable, upturned nose. "This is Allison," Scott says smugly. "My girlfriend."
"Ex-girlfriend," Allison says.
Scott, surprisingly, beams at her. She beams back. Stiles the smartass and Derek the werewolf exchange a stunningly executed, synchronized eyeroll of disgust.
"We've met," Sam mutters, carefully not looking at Dean.
Allison detaches herself from Scott and saunters over. She's wearing black leather boots, a black leather mini-skirt, and a black cashmere turtleneck sweater. In one hand she's carrying a gorgeous black crossbow; a black quiver of black arrows is slung over one shoulder. She plucks Dean's guns out of his hands, takes them to the sink, drops them in, and turns on the water. Then she holds out a hand.
Sam gives the arrow a final twist, frees it from his jacket, and hands it to her. "For the record," he says, "you mostly missed."
Dean turns to Sam. "Dude. You got your ass kicked by a little goth Katniss. You suck. And you owe me guns and ammo, by the way."
"Sorry about your face," Allison says to Sam. She pats him on his non-bleeding cheek, and gives him a wicked smile. "You shouldn't leave it lying around on the ground like that."
Sam makes a noise halfway between a groan and a whimper; Dean can only assume he's imagining the abundance of joy this moment will bring his brother for years to come.
"Dean," Melissa says sweetly, "Sam. Maybe now we could discuss this problem like civilized people."
Dean raises his eyebrows. "We could if all of us were people." He looks pointedly at Derek, still fully fur-faced.
"Hey," Stiles says, "Werewolves are people! They're like -- people, plus!"
Derek bares his teeth at Stiles. Dean is mildly alarmed, until Stiles goes red in the face and smiles at Derek. All becomes clear: Werewolf flirting. Of course there would be teeth involved.
"I'm sensing a lack of objectivity on your part," Dean says to Stiles. "Just a little."
"Stiles is right," Melissa confirms. "Werewolves are people. My son is people. Derek is people."
"Jackson, Erica, Boyd, and Isaac are people, too," Derek says.
Sam's eyes go wide. "There are six of you?"
"Seven, if you count Derek's uncle," Scott says.
Stiles shudders dramatically. "We don't."
"He's a dick," Scott says. "If you absolutely have to kill a werewolf tonight, I vote for him."
"Oh, well, if we're voting," Stiles says, and raises his hand. Allison and Scott raise their hands, too. Melissa raises the hand not currently menacing Dean and Sam with the shotgun.
Derek's fur, claws, and snarl retract. His eyes change from red to brown. Honestly, it doesn't make that much of a difference. He makes a face that could curdle milk and says, "We're not voting. This isn't Survivor."
Scott's eyes widen. "You watch Survivor? ...wait. You have a television?"
Derek hunches his shoulders, and looks at the floor.
"I may have had an episode on one night," Stiles says. "Possibly two nights, last fall, you know, after the whole Kanima thing, but before random people started showing up in our kitchens in the middle of the night trying to kill us? There was maybe one night when Derek came over for, uh, research purposes. Maybe two nights. To collect some very important research. That I had done, for him, that you guys don't know about because--"
Derek drops his head into his hands.
"Because," Stiles finishes desperately, and presses his lips firmly together.
There's a brief moment of silence to memorialize the big scary werewolf's lost dignity. Then Dean clears his throat and says, "Back to the headcount?"
"Seven werewolves, two hunters," a new voice says from the demolished doorway.
"Dad!" Allison says.
"Sweetheart," the guy says. He's a lean blond guy with weird blue eyes and an extremely threatening smile. The giant crossbow he's cradling in his arms like a baby only adds to that impression.
Sam stares at the new guy in round-eyed surprise. "Chris--?" he says.
"Brad?" Dean asks the ceiling. "Janet!?"
Stiles barks out a hysterical laugh and says, "Oh, God."
Chris blushes from the roots of his hair to the neck of his stylish beige gardigan, and stares at Sam like he's seeing a ghost.
Dean's extremely familiar with the expression. He turns to Sam in horror. "Seriously?" he demands. "Could I get a list of the hunters you didn't bang in your Year of Living Soullessly?"
Allison gasps, and says, "...Dad?"
Chris shrugs uncomfortably, not meeting her eyes. "It was a long time ago."
"Yeah," Dean says dryly, "way back in the olden days of 2010."
"Dad!" Allison stares at her father, shocked, and after a moment says, "What about Mom?"
Now, Chris is avoiding everyone's eyes. "Your mother and I shared everything," he says carefully. "You know that."
Dean leers at Sam proudly. Allison goes pale. "That's so much worse," she says weakly, and buries her face in Scott's chest. For an ex, that kid gets a lot of play.
Melissa lays her shotgun on the table and goes to the fridge. She gets out a carton of milk, slams the door closed, and pulls six mismatched mugs and two glasses out of a cabinet. She sets them on the counter with a loud clatter.
Everyone -- kids, werewolves, hunters -- stares at her.
"What?" she demands, a cute line of anger forming at the center of her forehead. "I think we all know each other a little too well for shooting now, don't you?"
Derek folds himself into a chair at the table. "Whatever," he says, and yawns widely, covering his mouth at a sharp look from Melissa. Stiles takes the chair next to him.
Scott gives Stiles a weird look, then he sits down, too. Allison perches on his knee, still staring at her father with liquid, wounded eyes.
Chris says, "Coffee's fine for me. Sam?"
"Coffee's good," Sam says. He reaches across the island to shake Chris's hand. His face is completely blank, giving absolutely nothing away. "Nice to see you again." Dean rolls his eyes.
"Milk, cocoa, or coffee?" Melissa asks Dean.
He really does love her. "Does this mean I get another cookie?"
It's hard to maintain an air of badassery once somebody breaks out the milk and cookies. The Winchester ideal of home cooking usually involves a microwave at a 7-Eleven, so fresh baked cookies are an unprecedented luxury, even if they are Nestle Tollhouse. He takes way more than his share, and then steals one of Sam's for good measure. After the first time around, the plate mysteriously passes just out of his reach.
"So, you're hunters, too?" Allison says, eyeing Sam coldly. "How long have you two been doing this?"
Sam's face goes red. He doesn't answer.
"A while," Dean says. He pats Sam on the shoulder. "Sam's just never been much good at it. What about you?"
"About a year," Allison says.
"Wow, a whole year," Dean says. He looks at her dad. "You?"
Chris smiles, showing his teeth. "Longer."
Dean leans back, hooks one arm over the back of his chair, and glances casually at the werewolves. "Well, you're doing an awesome job in this neck of the woods, I can tell."
"Dean," Sam says evenly. "His name is Chris Argent."
Dean's eyes go wide. He looks at Allison and Chris again. "Really?"
"Not historically soft on werewolves," Sam says.
"Uh, no." Thanks to Bobby, Dean knows stories about the Argent family Sam's still too young to hear.
"So if we're still alive," Scott says, "it's because we don't need killing."
Dean thinks this over. After a moment he says, "Still skeptical. Everyone in this room has clearly gone native."
"It's because we're not monsters," Derek says darkly.
"That's what all the monsters say," Dean points out.
Stiles gulps the last of his milk, belches loudly in satisfaction, then says, "It's because Scott is Allison's boyfriend."
"Ex-boyfriend," Scott and Allison say together, and then smile at each other so hard it makes Dean's teeth hurt.
"Whatever," Stiles says, waving a hand airily. "You all know it's true."
"Oh, so it's a sex thing," Dean says, relaxing. He grins. "Okay, that makes sense."
When it's over -- the bickering, the showing off, the catching up, the death threats and the exchanges of email addresses -- Melissa packs hunters, werewolves and teenagers off to their respective mansions, ruins, houses and cars and goes to bed. It's been a long night, a weird night, and she's earned it. Scott follows Allison back to her house, and Stiles, looking even shiftier than usual, slinks out after Derek. The house is hers again. Mostly.
At 3:00 a.m., something wakes her from a sound, blissful sleep. She looks around her room; it's silent and empty. She waits a beat, and then a beat longer, and then the doorbell rings. She relaxes back onto the mattress and ignores it.
At 3:03 a.m., it rings again. This time, it doesn't stop. Fatalistically, she grabs her shotgun from beside the bed and goes downstairs to see who it is.
There's a crazy man on her porch. He's wearing a trench coat.
"Did I miss the party?"
Melissa stares. The crazy man has bright blue eyes, black hair, and a sweet -- if completely deranged -- smile. In one hand he has a plastic bag from the convenience store down the street. "I'm sorry?" she says.
"The werewolf party," he clarifies. "I brought milk."
"For the werewolves," she says slowly.
"No!" he laughs. "For the cookies!"
"Of course." Melissa fondles the gun, just out of sight behind the door frame. "You can leave it on the steps."
"I am late," he says. "I'm very sorry; I must seem so rude. I attempted a shortcut through Nebraska, but I was distracted by an odd pattern in the corn."
"Of course," Melissa says again, nodding. "But unfortunately the party is over, and everyone has gone home." She pauses, rethinking. "Except the extremely large and very protective werewolves. They're still here."
"Of course," the crazy man says. He smiles at her, and doesn't leave.
After a full minute of silence, he's still there, and still smiling.
"Is there something else I can help you with?" she says, thinking, before I call the police?
"Can you tell me where to find Dean and Sam Winchester?"
Melissa has some recent experience in this area. She isn't new. "Nope," she says. "Never heard of them."
"That's too bad," the man says. He sighs, and smiles again. He still doesn't leave.
"Well," Melissa says, "I'm going to go now. Good night."
"Wait!" the man says.
He reaches into his pocket. "Would you like some bees?"
Melissa slams the door between them, and presses her back against it. Dean steps out of the kitchen, bare to the waist, a plate of cookies in one hand and a half-eaten cookie in the other.
It's like living in an x-rated cooking calendar, she thinks through a haze of appreciation. He'd be July, or maybe August. Definitely a summer month.
"This night sucks," she says, reaching behind her back to turn the deadbolt. She thought he'd disappeared into the night without saying goodbye, and she's very pleasantly surprised to be wrong. "There's a lunatic on my porch with a bag full of bees. He's looking for you."
"Yeah," Dean says. "That happens sometimes. What did you tell him?"
"I said you weren't here." She hooks a finger in his belt buckle and tugs. "I hope you're happy, mister."
"Oh, I plan to be very happy," he says, grinning. He lets her pull him in; there's a smear of chocolate at the corner of his mouth, and he smells like gun powder. "What about you?"