Disclaimer: Neither 'Numb' by Linkin' Park from whichI have borrowed a few linesnor Dean Winchester and Supernatural are mine, both belong elsewhere.

Rating: nothing much happening here.

Summary: Dean's thoughts as John and Sam argue about Stanford

Author's Note: Although I know that pizzapixie is a Sam fan and that this is about Dean, I shall dedicate this to her, as she has been great at reviewing and she told me to listen to more music in the car after a song inspired me the other day - so I did. This is where it got me!

I'm tired of being what you want me to be
Feeling so faithless lost under the surface
Don't know what you're expecting of me

Dean looked at his father and brother arguing again and wondered if they even noticed him anymore. He had long ago run out of plans, plots and schemes to try and divert the arguments and he'd only started on them after mediation didn't work. The problem was he knew exactly where Sam was coming from, given the choice three or four years ago he would have been off, away from the hunt, studying in some nice college town, partying with the other students. Leaving hadn't been an option then and still wasn't for Dean. He knew that if Sam got away, he couldn't leave Dad alone, it wouldn't be right and if Sam didn't get away, well, then he could hardly try setting off into the distance, it wouldn't be fair on either Dad or Sam; for Sam, in particular, it would be like rubbing salt in the wound

Dean remembered the time when he had loved school. Not for the girls or the parties but because, once upon a time, he had enjoyed learning. He'd enjoyed working hard and having someone else appreciate it. Not Dad, all he wanted was for both boys to be efficient at tracking down relevant information for whatever job he was working on and to be able to read a bunch of obscure languages that would be useful to him. Dean had loved English, the play of words, the infinite possibilities of language and he'd read at every opportunity. He'd also loved technical stuff, computers and that sort of thing. He had a flair for using his hands and a logical way of approaching things that meant he did well in class. He found it amusing that he teased Sam now for the things he had once been good at himself and that Sam thought he was pretty stupid, dropping out of school as early as possible, choosing

to follow in his father's footsteps – he'd hidden the truth for the last three years and look where it had got him now.

Sinking in a river, being pulled inexorably down. Unhappy, unsatisfied, unfulfilled, unworthy of notice.

I've become so numb I can't feel you there
I've become so tired so much more aware

It was easier to step back, step out, step away, and pretend it wasn't happening. At first that had worked, but now there was no stepping back into the fray, the energy that zipped round any room with Sam or Dad in was too much to bear. Fighting the magnetic tug on Dean as both tried to pull him to their side was wearing him down. He struggled to remember who he was, what he wanted and failed. He wanted to be himself, he wanted to be heard but he couldn't think of anything to say, and it was just too tiring to come up with something to say when he knew they wouldn't listen anyway. 'I want to be me!' A small voice shouted deep, deep inside him.

Can't you see that you're smothering me
Holding too tightly afraid to lose control

Dad and his endless list of things to do, his chores and tasks and expectations, he left Dean little or no time to himself. Matters were only made worse by Dean having stood up to Dad for Sam and said that whatever Sam's choice with regard to Stanford, they both had to stand by and let him graduate school; they had to support him as he took his exams. Dad's reluctant agreement had only been given when Dean agreed to pick up the slack.

'What am I? What can I be?' the thought was horrifying now to Dean but he remembered a time when he had looked at the future and the possibilities before him with fascination and enthusiasm. Talks with career teachers had left him brimming with excitement about where he could go, what he could do and then…

…and then he had gone home and talked to Dad. That was a singularly painful and brutally unforgettable experience. The pain of learning what your place and value in the world are, what your sole responsibility is. Dean knew he couldn't walk away from his family and so long as he couldn't turn his back, he had to hunt to be accepted. Dad had made that clear, along with his responsibility to Sam. Just the same as with Sam now, Dean remembered his own slanging matches with his father, just as brutal as the ones between father and younger son. Dean knew the only difference was Sam was the strong son; he would be able to break away. After all, Sam believed he was walking away from a father and older brother who had made their choices and were doing what they wanted. As his own heart crumbled at the thought of his family disintegrating, Dean was proud of his brother.

I'm becoming this all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you

Dean wondered what his mom would have wanted for him, what were her dreams for him. Had she wanted him to grow up like his father, following in his footsteps? Is that what she wanted now from wherever she was watching? Was there any way to make her proud of him?

Before his mom died, what had Dad planned for him? Were they supposed to work in a garage, father and son? Would he still have been as disappointed as he was now? Would Dean have been allowed to choose a path? Would he have been able to finish school? Would he have had the strength to be his own man?

And I know
I may end up failing too
But I know
You were just like me with someone disappointed in you

Dad had been a disappointment to his father, particularly after Mom's death, whipping the two boys away from friends and family in the early hours of a morning when everyone else was sleeping, with no goodbyes, no we'll be back soon, no forwarding address, just vanishing into the night. Then just as suddenly turning back up again, for a short time, 'keeping in touch', Dad had called it, 'just thought you'd like some time with the boys'. Of course, they had but it was hard, the boys were left amidst people who were strangers now and used to being dragged round the country, never staying in one place for more than a few days, they didn't know how to deal with the attention. Dean knew that he and Sam had gone from being Mary and John's 'lovely sweet boys', to 'those poor children, so odd now'. He'd heard them talk. He was still just that, an odd child, now an odd man, not quite fitting in. He didn't want that for Sam, Sam could get away and make it work, be accepted.

I've become so numb I can't feel you there
I've become so tired so much more aware

In truth, there was nothing left to do but follow orders. Dean was a foot soldier; he was never going to be a leader of men like his father. As for Sam, well he was going to be a lawyer and not part of this world at all.

Dean knew a few things for sure now Sam had left. He wasn't going anywhere Dad hadn't decided for him. It was better to get on and do than to think. The less time you spend thinking, the easier it is to pretend that it doesn't hurt. If you can pretend it doesn't hurt, then you can pretend it doesn't matter. Get to that point and then you can start trying to convince yourself that this is actually what you wanted all along.

For now, he was stuck at the trying to spend less time thinking, he was determined that it couldn't possibly keep hurting like this, but at least he knew where he wanted to head on this road and so long as he kept it quiet then no-one else could stop him travelling this particular road of his choosing.

I've become so numb I can't feel you there
I'm tired of being what you want me to be