A/N: A final grand thanks to everyone who read and reviewed. I hope you've enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Here's the final chapter.

7. …But it Can Change Forms

"Hey! Outta my way, Rod 'n Balls. Some of us have places to be," some dunderhead hollered out as he shoved me out of the way and side-stepped me easily, five friends flanking his sides and streaming around me to cross the courtyard.

It had become habit, at this point, to continue stopping by the courtyard for a few minutes after school; my mother had become accustomed to picking me up late, as I'd stopped here so often, so I decided that the habit might as well continue… even though I knew Dean wouldn't be here. He hadn't been in school that day; nor had he been the day before, or the day before that…

I imagined the Winchesters had left town upon getting picked up in the big black car, for I hadn't seen hide nor hair of either since, and it had been nearly two weeks since their disappearance.

Most of the school seemed to be forgetting Dean quite quickly. There were still those in the junior class that gossiped about "that gross transfer from Dead Man's Lot," but they were few and far between. Nearly everyone had quickly gotten over his whirlwind arrival and departure, quickly relegating him to the back dusty corners of their mind wherein resided the forgotten names of dead old politicians from history class and last week's lunch menu.

Yet for me there was a distinct lack of Dean at school. I hadn't realized until he left what a presence he had that one could just feel as he walked down the halls, strode through the cafeteria, relaxed in the back of math class. He was just so manifestly there, as though his aura glowed through the air around him, and the lack of his being there left something hollow and dark in its wake. With his absence I felt an aching sort of loss, as though a chunk had been removed from me, and now school was nothing but the hopeless, empty taunts with no distraction and nothing to look forward to.

Clearly, the profound sentiment was not shared by the masses. Dean was the gum they had nearly stepped in yesterday, and I was the gum stuck under their desks today.

But I was weary, for surviving high school is not, as I once thought, a simple matter of endurance. For where, then, is your true enjoyment? Where is your happiness? Without it, you are merely a dejected, disconsolate dissipation of air who would just as well lock himself in a dark hole for eternity than painfully endure one more day in the torture-chamber of social hierarchy in high school.

Let me break it down this way:

Survival equals Happiness

Happiness equals (Companionship)(Gratification)


(Companionship)(Gratification) equals Friendship


Survival equals Friendship

It was the answer to a question I had been going about all wrong, and I knew who I had to thank for that. Nobody had bothered to pay enough attention to remember him, but I would never forget. There was something in Dean that I couldn't describe, and something about his absence that puzzled me more. Friendship, perhaps? Was that what I had been lacking all along? Was Popularity not the end-all, be-all?

It was a full year, and I a senior, by time a new kid came who was like me. Greg. He was shy at first, but after he got to know me, he stayed—unlike any of the others. I hadn't known, when I'd started my little project, that I would end up looking for someone for keeps, not for mere companionship to elevate my Popularity. But I did find someone for keeps… my only problem was that I found him junior year. Because, even when Greg and I kissed, I fancied that I was kissing Dean Winchester.