A Breakdown of Years

Author's Note: This has been in my head for a while. Please do drop a note; good bad or ugly.

Disclaimer: Everything's mine. Burn.

Summary: A breakdown of the years of Dean's life. Told second person.

One is innocence. It's over-zealous relatives claming every little gurgle is a word. It's a thousand photographs taken on a thousand cameras, put in a thousand albums all creatively labeled: Dean, Year One.

Two is homemade vanilla cupcakes, hot from the oven, topped with blue icing that you swear tastes like the sky.

Three is rides on Dad's shoulders and Mom telling you bedtime stories. It's going to the park on weekends to play catch with your brand new baseball glove.

Four is Sammy and kissing your little brother goodnight and asking a hundred times a day when he'll be big enough to play on the swings with you. Four is the fire and fear and your life changing into something inconceivable without you even knowing it.

Five is moving three times in as many months and Dad lying about your age so you can start karate class a year early. It's Dad starting to talk about strange things and all the neighbors calling him crazy.

Six is starting school four times, in four different schools, in four different towns. It's Dad giving you a Glock for your birthday and teaching you about all those strange things while Sammy bangs pot lids together in the kitchen.

Seven is Dad showing you the proper way to hold a knife and how to aim your pistol more accurately and sparring with you on weekends while the other kids play softball. It's you reading Sammy stories at night because Dad isn't home or he's busy cleaning the shotgun.

Eight is the first time Dad comes home bloody and, though he says it's nothing, you realize that, not only are the strange things he talks about real, but that they'll hurt you if they can. So, you start sleeping with a knife under your pillow because you're never going to let them catch you unprepared and you're never, never going to let them hurt Sammy.

Nine is your first hunt, and you don't know if it's fear or adrenaline that's making your heart beat so very fast. And when that thing comes at you, you're just shooting and shooting and shooting… and when it's dead, you feel good – so good – because that thing would have hurt you, would have hurt Dad, would have hurt Sammy, would have hurt that nice family that gave you cookies when Dad told them they didn't have anything to worry about anymore. And you want to kill another.

Ten is hunting in the evenings and helping Dad teach Sammy how to fire his first gun. It's Sammy starting karate – a year later than you, because he's so small – and showing him 'secret moves' on the weekend.

Eleven is making sure Sammy always has food to eat and clean clothes to wear; that he does his homework and gets to school on time, because Dad's away too much to do it. It's learning fractions in the day, Latin at night and bow hunting on the weekends when Dad's home.

Twelve is learning to use the shotgun and practicing for hours even though the kickback leaves your shoulder aching. It's sleeping on the floor in Sammy's room for weeks because he has a closet monster and you aren't going to let it hurt one hair on his head – and just because this time is was imaginary, that doesn't mean it couldn't have been real.

Thirteen is Sammy's first hunt and he's holding your hand almost as tightly as you're holding your pistol. It's the first time you dig up a grave and Dad has to lift you out of the hole before lighting the body because you're too small to pull yourself up.

Fourteen is Dad being accused of child abuse after you and Sammy show up at school wearing the bruises a mothman put on you. It's trying to make Sammy smile when he's sad, by telling him it's snowing and taking him out to build a fort and go sledding.

Fifteen is your first poltergeist and your first broken nose. It's getting Sammy better with a knife and a gun and his fists and telling him not to cry when Dad yelled at him for wanting to play soccer instead of bow hunting.

Sixteen is when the girls really start to notice you. It's pounding the tar out of three kids bigger than you because they were going to beat on Sammy. It's one of Dad's 'contacts' teaching you to fence with the sword collection hidden in his basement.

Seventeen is wielding the shotgun one-handed and blasting the shit out of that fucker in Michigan. It's Sam insisting he doesn't want to be called 'Sammy' anymore and you ignoring the request because he'll always be your Sammy.

Eighteen is besting Dad eight out of ten times when you spar and quitting karate because you can beat all your teachers. It's skipping prom to duke it out with some goblin-type-thing that you never really bothered to classify, and, yeah, you're pissed that it went for your ribs because it's going to hurt to drive for a couple days, but, damn, was it awesome when you got your knife in its throat.

Nineteen is no longer allowing Sammy to pin you when you're practicing – if he wants to best you, he'll have to earn it. It's Sammy coming to you after a close call on the job and asking you to burn and salt his body if he gets killed, so he won't ever become a monster and you asking him to do the same for you.

Twenty is teaching Sammy how to get girls and how to shave and how to make plastique in the garage. It's getting busted by the cops at a check stop for having a loaded rifle on the passenger seat and Dad talking them down to a fine before congratulating you on a damn fine shot that night.

Twenty one is Dad stopping at a bar to take you for a drink on your birthday and, though you appreciate it, you think it's funny, because, according to your ID, you've been twenty one longer than you've been sixteen. It's being better than Dad at hustling pool and celebrating Sammy's straight A's with him when Dad all but ignored the accomplishment.

Twenty two is the fight you know you can't fix no matter how good you've gotten at it. It's Dad screaming and shouting until the door slams behind Sammy and then it's Dad breaking down in tears. It's you standing stricken and distraught in the front entry way for nearly an hour before you find yourself destroying everything in your room, hollering after your little brother who's already much too far away to hear… or for you to protect.

Twenty three is being on the road with Dad and a nice new scar up your arm that that redhead in Alabama thought was so sexy. It's swinging by Stanford whenever you can, to check up on Sammy and make sure he's safe.

Twenty four is a brief hospital stay after the rifle jammed, the demon taking full advantage, and Dad getting you the hell out of there before they realized your insurance was no good. It's that bitch of an exorcism in Delaware and wading knee-deep through the Florida Everglades after that, literal, swamp creature that nearly took your leg. It's missing Sammy.

Twenty five is busting Dad out of prison in Manhattan and earning another nice scar across the back of your thigh as reward for destroying your thirtieth poltergeist. It's watching Sammy from a distance as he strolls hand in hand with some pretty blonde across campus. It's feeling like you're farther from your little brother than you ever possibly could be and wishing there was something – anything – you could do to bring him back.

Twenty six is your world falling apart. It's Dad up and vanishing and you spending hours debating whether you should go to Sam, because in the four years he's been out, you've been banged up, bruised up and clawed open, but he's been safe. But – dammit – you can't do this on your own. Twenty six is the fire and nightmares and Sammy in the car with you again. It's you putting a gun back in your baby brother's hand. It's Sammy's whole world falling apart. And maybe it's a chance to start putting things back together.

Maybe not.