One week before Christmas...
Jack Kline stretched and yawned, eyes still closed. There was something important about today, but he couldn’t remember what it was; it was too early to think clearly. And then he opened his eyes, and saw the cap and gown hanging from the hook on the back of his bedroom door, and remembered: he’d completed his Bachelor’s degree work a semester early, and was taking part in December graduation – the only early graduate, the Dean had told him the day before; all the rest had taken an extra semester to finish their degrees. The ceremony was today.
And that meant family. Sam, Livvy, and the triplets. Dean and Cas. They would all be there, for sure. He wasn’t as certain about Jody, Donna, Kaia, Alex, and Claire. It was a long drive just for the day, and Christmas was only a week away. But he thought he remembered Dean saying they had been invited, he just couldn’t remember if they had said they were actually coming down from Sioux Falls, or not.
And then he smelled the bacon, and the coffee, and realized that Jesse Turner, his apartment-mate, must already be up and moving. So he swung himself up and out of bed, put his robe on over his flannel pjs for added warmth, and went out to the kitchen. Two plates with bacon and eggs, and two mugs of coffee, one black, one with just enough flavored creamer for Jack’s tastes, were waiting on the counter, but there was no Jesse – and no dirty pans, no other dishes.
I wasn’t tired enough to sleep through the sound of washing dishes, Jack thought. Was I?
He walked into the living room. No Jesse.
The bathroom door was open. Still no Jesse.
Jesse’s bedroom door was open, and peeking through it, Jack saw that Jesse was in his bed, sound asleep.
But if Jesse's still asleep, who made breakfast?
At that moment, Jesse’s eyes opened, and he smiled at Jack. “Mornin’, graduate!”
“Jess? Did you make breakfast and then go back to bed?” Jack asked.
Jesse frowned. “No. But I dreamed about making breakfast for us.”
“Jess, how….” Jack stopped, and shrugged, realizing that really, either one of them could have used their powers to make breakfast in their sleep. Jack was a Nephilim (half-human, half-Archangel), Jesse a Cambion (half-human, half-demon). “Well, anyway, it’s ready. Come eat.”
As they sat down at their kitchen table, Jesse poked Jack’s leg with his toes. “Ready for the big day?”
“I think so.”
“No. I don’t have to make a speech or anything. Just walk across the stage and shake the Dean’s hand. Nothing to be nervous about, really. You’re the one who’ll be nervous, in May. You know you’re gonna be valedictorian, Jess.”
“I don’t know that, for sure, Jack, there are at least two other people in contention.”
“Yeah, people.” Jack smirked.
“Hey, they’re smart, and we’ve all been a study group forever, so, y’know, it could happen.” Jesse grinned.
Jack grinned back. “Yeah. Right. It’ll be you. You deserve it, Jess, you’ve worked hard.”
“Well, you have, too. If you’d stayed the extra term, it’d be you, Jack.”
“Yeah, which is why I didn’t stay the extra term. Don’t want the attention.”
“I don’t get that, Jack,” Jesse told him. “You’re a smart guy, you worked really hard, you got really good grades; heck, you should’ve taken some easy electives, graduated with the rest of us, and made the damn speech. You know I wouldn’t mind. It’s not like I have parents who’ll show up when I graduate. You have three dads, plus Livvy, plus the rest of your family. And yeah, they’ll cheer for you when you walk across the stage today, but can’t you imagine Sam, Dean, and Cas beaming with pride as you give the valedictory speech, Jack? Why wouldn’t you want that?”
“Dunno. I guess it’s just that I want to be done with school, and I already know the family’s proud of me. And by the way, they’re proud of you, too, Jess. You think Sam, Dean, and Cas won’t be there for you in May, and won’t be beaming with just as much pride for you? Pfft. Don’t be daft.” Jack speared a piece of bacon and turned his attention to chewing it.
Jesse hid his smile behind his mug. One of the many benefits of rooming with Jack was getting to feel like one of Jack’s family members. The Winchesters were incredibly open and caring.
Jack looked up and caught the not-quite-so-hidden-as-Jesse-imagined smile. He poked Jesse’s leg with his toes. “Hey. Not bad for two guys who could’ve turned out to be the Anti-Christ, huh?” He grinned at Jesse.
Jesse grinned back. “Yeah. And Sam and Dean and Cas are responsible for both of us turning out right. Even if I did spend 13 years avoiding people in the Australian Outback after meeting them for the first time.”
“Hey, that was your own fault, Jess. You could’ve gone with them. You know they would have taken you in then, just like they took me in. You’re the one who decided to take off on your own at the age of 5. Goof.”
“Yeah, yeah. We better get dressed, Pooh.” Jack stood and ruffled his roommate’s hair.
“Okay, Tigger. Let’s get moving. Hey, how much you wanna bet Dean baked pie for the party?” Jesse suggested.
“Sucker bet. Not only did he certainly bake pie, he probably made more than one kind, knowing Dean,” Jack laughed.
They put their dishes in the sink, then went to their own rooms to get dressed. Neither paid any attention to the fact that the faucet turned on and a scrub brush washed the dishes, a towel briskly dried them, and they floated, clean, into the cupboard, as if unseen hands had put them away.
Jack stood on the steps up to the stage, fingers nervously worrying at his graduation robe as he waited in line to get his diploma. He knew he’d lied to Jesse at breakfast. He was terrified that he, with all his boundless energy, would trip, on the robe, or the stairs, or nothing at all.
Please let this go right. Please, grandpa. I know I don’t ask for things often, or really pray much at all, but just this once, please, please, don’t let me screw this up.
Jack tried not to think about Chuck very often, but every now and then, when he was nervous about something, he found himself praying, just a little. He wondered if Chuck paid any attention. He doubted it, really.
And the person ahead of him stepped onto the stage, and he moved up a step. He was next. His fingers twitched nervously again. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of Sam, as always the tallest person in almost any room. He looked down and grinned. And then he heard the Dean say….
And he stepped up onto the stage, walked confidently across it, took his diploma from the Dean, and shook his hand, and it was over. Done. He stepped off the stage on the steps across from the ones he’d been waiting on, and headed back to his seat to wait through the 60 or so remaining names to be called.
He used the diploma to fan his face. It was hot in the crowded theatre, what with the crowd and the lighting. He couldn’t wait to get outside into the December air. He hoped Dean and Cas weren’t going to insist on a zillion indoor pictures before they all left for the party. Hopefully, they’d taken enough while he’d been on the stage. Hey, a guy could hope, right?