O’er The Ramparts, We Watch’d
"So," Sarah said. "This still your favorite holiday, Cap'n Blow Shit Up?"
Dean smirked. "What, one of only two days it's socially acceptable to do it?" he said. "Hell, yeah. We used to make better stuff than this, though."
The girls were in the middle of the street with several other neighborhood kids, waving sparklers and managing not to get burned. Winchesters seemed to know how to handle...things, at any age. Allie looked bored enough to stick one of them in her own eye. She was waiting for things with fuses to light, and keeping an eye on the adults on the porch while making sure Leigh didn't flip her hair too close to a lit sparkler.
Sam chose then to show up with more iced tea, and said, "No, Dean."
"Whaaaaat," Dean said. "C'mon, you're paranoid."
"Don't tell that story while our kids are within ten miles," Sam said. "Jesus."
"Yeah, Dean," Sarah said. "Let's have it. Let's hear a precautionary tale on how not to behave." When Sam shot her a pleading look, she added, "I see you guys still have all your fingers and eyes, so how bad could it be?"
Dean winked at her. "Yep, still got all the appendages."
Sarah smirked back at him, then turned her attention to Allie, who was making a beeline for the porch. Her ears were perpetually perked for a 'no, Dean' from her father, because it meant something good every time.
"No," Sam said, pointing back toward the street, and he somehow managed not to make it look or feel as if he was directing a dog out of a garden.
"But I - " she began.
"Whatever it is, you don't need it that bad," Sam said. "Pee in the bushes."
Dean laughed aloud. Sarah stuck a foot out and kicked the back of Sam's tennisshoe, then let her eldest daughter handle her husband.
"I'm just gonna ask later and he'll tell me," Allie said, careful to keep her eyes steady and tone respectful. "Daddy. It's not like I'll make any fireworks."
"Famous last words from the newest family pyro," Dean muttered.
Sam sighed. "You don't repeat it," he said. "Ever."
Taking that for what it was, she completed her trek to the porch and tucked herself into the lawnchair in the corner, sheltered behind a wooden box of begonias and in stealth mode so the other girls wouldn't catch on.
Sam stared at Dean steadily, conveying that he'd better be doling out an abbreviated version of whatever he meant to say. Allie watched her father and uncle have an entire conversation without either of them saying a word. Then she and her mother had a conversation with eyes alone about not taking things seriously and not repeating them either, this was Big Girl part-of-the-inner-circle stuff and needed to be treated as such.
Dean turned his head to look straight at Allie and made a face that clearly said don't pay any attention to your parents.
Allie sighed in contentment. Best. Adults. Ever.
"When your dad was 10," Dean said, "...and I was 14, we made our own gunpowder."
"How?" Allie said, trying to sound as innocent as possible.
"Stuff you can find right in the hou-"
Sam cut Dean off. "Stuff that's really hard to get. Grandpa used to make it. Just never mind."
"Anyway," Dean said, "We had some extra and it was the first batch we'd tried on our own, you know, our special recipe. So we decided to celebrate and see what it would do if we put it in a paper lunchbag and set it on fire."
Sarah began laughing and tried to muffle it. Sam was shaking his head. "How full was the bag, Dean?"
"Just a third full," Dean said, grinning.
"'It'll be like a fountain, Sam'," Sam said in his best Dean voice. "'Just bigger'."
"So we waited until after dark and put it in the middle of the road because that was the nearest asphalt, where we were staying," Dean said. "Didn't wanna start a fire or anything, and there were no cars."
"Not a single car had gone by in the last two hours," Sam said. "Not one." His tone was so rueful as he watched the other kids that it made Sarah laugh again.
"Great," she said. "Can see this coming, a mile away."
"I folded and lit the top of the bag," Sam said. "And then we casually hid in the bushes about twenty yards away, up against the side of the house."
"And then a breeze blew the flame out," Dean said.
Allie leaned forward a little in her chair.
"We couldn't go relight it," Sam said. "There were embers on the bag by then."
"Then we heard the car," Dean said.
Allie leaned forward further, eyes widening.
"No way we were gonna go stomp it out or move it," Sam said with a sigh. "Could still go off."
"So the embers were moving down the bag," Dean said. "And the car was a long way off, coming up the hill, getting closer every minute. It was a race to see which would get there first, the car or the embers."
"Took the car like a full minute to get to our part of the road," Sam said. "Thought we were gonna die of fear."
"Maybe you were," Dean said.
"Man, you didn't take a single breath the whole time," Sam said without looking at him. "Right after you said, and I quote, 'God help us, Sammy'. Don't even."
Dean waved a dismissive hand at him. "I don't remember that, but whatever. Who's telling this story?"
Out on the street, Mary dropped her sparkler on the ground and began screaming and dancing around it until Sam went out and picked it up for her.
So much for the 'Winchesters knowing how to handle...things' rule.
"Did anybody die?" Allie said.
"Hey, don't get ahead of me," Dean said. A moment later Sam bounded back up onto the porch and leaned against the rail. "The car got closer, like right there, and it looked like the bag had gone out completely. No way was it going off right under the car, no way was fate that much of an assho-"
"It could have actually blown the car right off the road," Sam said. "If it went off in the right place."
"The car passed right over it," Dean said. "Right over the top of it and pulled it along a little, scattering sparks and stuff everywhere."
"And the bumper cleared it by inches," Sam said.
"And then it went off," Dean said.
"Did it look like a fountain?" Sarah whispered, staring between them.
"If you took all the fountains ever made in the history of the world and put them together, yeah," Sam said. "It didn't even make a sound."
"Quick," Dean said to Allie. "What the biggest blue-white star you can see from the northern hemisphere?"
"Rigel," Allie said.
"Rigel landed in the yard," Dean said, and Allie laughed.
"You couldn't even look right at it," Sam said. "It was like high noon but brighter. Imagine driving up some dark road and having that happen in the rearview."
Dean whistled the five-note signature from Close Encounters. "Whoever it was slammed on the breaks but didn't get out. And that bastard burned for almost a full minute. We made some high-grade stuff."
"What, did they just drive off?" Sarah said.
"As fast as they could," Dean said. "Once they were sure they were still alive, I guess, and that there'd be no anal probes."
"Then it just went out, like nothing happened," Sam said. "And there we were, unable to see a damn thing in the dark, holding on to each other."
"You were holding on to me," Dean said.
"Your uncle Dean had a death grip on me and kept trying to shove me up against the house like the bag was gonna fly across the yard at us," Sam said.
Dean rolled his eyes. "Then the front door opens, real slow, on the other side of the bushes. It's real quiet for a long moment, then grandpa says, 'What was that?'"
"What did you tell him?" Allie whispered, leaning as far forward as she dared.
"It was a fountain," Sam said. Sarah laughed.
"And then he said 'get in the house'," Dean said. "We're lucky he didn't kill us. Something about not bringing the bomb squad down on us when the house is full of...things."
"And stuff," Sarah said.
Sam and Dean grinned at each other. "And stuff," Sam said.