Dead Man's Hand

Fandom: Supernatural

Category/Rated: PG

Year/Length: 2007/ ~1152 words

Pairing: John, Dean(n), Sam

Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit, only having fun.

Warning: Wee!chesters. Some language.

Summary: When he asks if she'll teach him poker she nearly chokes on her hamburger, and for just a half-second he swears that he sees fear in his big sister's eyes.

Author's Notes: So, I've been wanting to do a girl!Dean epic for some time. Just cause I wanna see if I can properly keep Dean as a bad ass if he's running around in a girl's body. And I didn't want it to be a gender swap, so... In this, John and Mary's firstborn child was Deann, not Dean. Also, this is for the Weechester prompt table, and yes, the whole table will be done with girl!Dean. Because I hate myself. Also, when I see girl!Dean, I'm seeing Katee Sackoff.

Beta: Bakarini, who did a excellent job of not hating the girl!Dean. Thanks!

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There's a list in the bottom of John's duffle bag, numbered one to forty three, of things he needs to teach his children. The paper has gone faded and yellow with time, and most of the numbers have been struck off by now, scribbled through with thick dark ink or fading pencil. Sam finds the list when he's fourteen, washing his father's clothes in the laundry mat down the road from their motel while Deann patches Dad up back in the room.

Washing clothes was number thirty-four.

First aid was number three. It looks like it was smeared out with blood, and faded red flakes peel away against Sam's fingers when he touches it.

Poker is number twelve, and Sam wonders why they should have to learn that, and why they haven't already, what with it being number twelve and all. He tucks the list back beneath the dirty socks and bloody tee-shirt in the bottom of the bag, sits in the too-small plastic seat and watches the washing machine go round and round. Thinks.

An hour later Deann shows up looking for him, says they're going to go get some grub and let Dad sleep for a few hours. There's blood caked under her fingernails, all along her cuticles, and a smear of it across her brow. When Sam asks how Dad is she looks straight into his eyes and tells him Dad is fine, and not to worry.

Sam laughs at her, licks his thumb and rubs at the dried blood on her face till she shoves him away, punching him playfully along the side of his head. She says to leave it, that it adds character. Sam calls her a dork, snags the Magnum out of the waistband of her pants and takes off for the nearest McDonald's. She catches him, of course, puts him into a wall and the gun looks so much bigger in her hands than it does in his, already half again as big as hers and still growing.

She kicks him in the ass and refuses to let him order fries though she doesn't complain when he steals hers; and when he asks if she'll teach him poker nearly chokes on her hamburger. For just a half-second he swears that he sees fear in his big sister's eyes.

He never mentions it again, because while he's made it his life's mission to annoy the crap out of her, there's this feeling in his chest that he should protect her, probably, as much as he can. He's not sure where that came from, but the first time he remembers it happening is two months ago, when they were leaning against a wall and he looked down at the top of her head.

He never mentions it, but he shop lifts a pack of Bicycle cards and lifts an instruction book from the library in town and practices when he thinks she's not looking. He wants, so badly, to have something Dad can cross off the list without having to teach him. Something that will make Dad beam with pride, like the first time he put a hole through a bulls eye at two hundred yards, like the first time he ran a mile in under seven minutes.

He's playing a fake hand of Texas Hold 'Em, four hands and attempting to bluff himself – and yeah, it is confusing – when she shoves her way into the motel room, newspaper and coffee cradled in her arms. Doesn't say anything, just stares at him, and he tries not to look guilty, doesn't know why he should be guilty, anyway. She asks him which of his personalities is winning, smirks, and pretends to read the paper.

Barely five minutes pass before she throws the paper down in disgust and settles onto the floor across from him. Tells him, without meeting his eyes, that they'll play a few practice rounds, regular poker, just to see how good his game face is.

He likes watching her fingers when she shuffles, the control she has, how she makes the cards fold against each other and spring apart. He likes the line of her wrist when she deals, perfectly aimed to slide the cards against his knee. Hears himself ask what they're betting, and frowns when she just laughs, high and desperate. Thinks maybe this isn't a good idea, but can't tell her that.

They play a few hands, and she folds every time, face getting harder and more distant with each deal. He's reaching across, planning to grab her wrist and make her show him her hand when Dad slams into the room, loaded up with take-out Chinese and cigarettes. He hates how heavy Dad's eyes are, staring at them – judge, jury, and executioner. Dad says her name like a warning, like a prayer, like he's asking if she's hurt and how bad.

She just smirks, drops her hand and says that Sam had needed help, and stalks to the bathroom. Sam doesn't think she means to slam the door, and then it's just him and Dad, staring at each other. Dad tells him not to flip over her hand, but he isn't listening, stares down at the aces and eights and the single deuce of spades and wonders what the big deal is. She's got the winning hand.

He can't ask her, and he won't ask Dad, so he calls Pastor Jim. Listens to silence on the other end of the line for a long time after he explains what happened and finally Pastor Jim sighs and tells him, in what Sam thinks of as his preacher voice, that a hand of black aces, eights, and the two of spades, is called a Dead Man's Hand. Explains about Wild Bill Hickok. Explains that it doesn't mean anything, really, just superstition.

Sam doesn't tell him that a lot of superstitions end up being painfully real.

He waits until he finally manages to get her alone one day, washing cloths again, and asks if that's why Dad never taught him poker. She hits him, cold cocks him and her knuckles burn like a brand against his skin. But it doesn't matter, because he's got her angry enough to tell the truth, and it pours out of her like venom. That, yes, Dad didn't want them touching cards after he tried to teach her and she got the same hand every goddamn time.

He must look worried, or scared, or something, because she softens then, offers him a hand up; tells him that it is okay, that it'll be okay as long as she doesn't play the hand.

Says she knows when to hold 'em, knows when to fold 'em, knows when to walk away.

Sam doesn't say anything. He just washes his Dad's dirty underwear and later burns the pack of cards in the parking lot beside the Impala.

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