This is Not Going to Be My Life"Don't touch me," Dean snarled, twisting under Caleb's hand as the older hunter guided him into the kitchen.
"Cool it, bucko," Caleb responded sternly, but he dropped his hand. The Texan caught Jim's eye and motioned for the Pastor to go after the younger Winchester while he took care of John's fuming teenager.
Jim had heard the exchange through the open window and had a few things to say to Dean, himself, but knew that Sam was upset and moving fast. Didn't want the kid caught outside after nightfall. He grabbed his coat and headed towards where Sam had disappeared around the corner of the church.
"Sit." Caleb ordered, pointing to the kitchen chair expectantly.
Dean looked as if he were about to refuse on principle, but one look at the deadly serious glare the older hunter was working reminded him of the chain of command around here and he sat, making his displeasure known with a mutinous slouch.
"Okay, buddy boy, we need to have a conversation."
Caleb reached out a paw and cuffed the little upstart on the side of the head.
"Ow!" Dean protested, rubbing.
"Be civil," Caleb said simply.
Dean glared, straightening angrily in his seat. "It's none of your business, Caleb. This is between me and my brother," he said coldly.
"Listen, Junior, I've put my ass on the line more than once for you three, so don't go all injured and broody with me."
Dean just sat there in stubborn silence.
"I may have been an only child, Dean, but it's pretty clear to me how much that kid looks up to you. And what he doesn't need is for you to get in his face right now."
"You wouldn't understand," Dean said, dropping his eyes. But he looked up, affronted, when Caleb laughed.
"Sorry, that's just a little more pitiful than I was expecting."
"You can be kind of an asshole, you know that?" Dean responded warily.
"I've heard rumors," Caleb said dryly, leaning over the table and fixing Dean in his sight.
Dean felt cornered in the man's gaze and squirmed, feeling a little like he had at thirteen when he "accidentally" broke an $800 vase using bow and arrows in Caleb's house while Dad was missing after some hunt in Mississippi. It wasn't good for his newly discovered independence to be grilled by his old babysitter.
"Fine," Caleb pronounced, loosing patience, "why don't we see what your dad has to say about you brawling with your eleven-year-old brother in the Jim's backyard?" Calling in the big guns.
Dean wasn't exactly pleased with the idea, but he thought that in this situation, his old man would back him up…minus the whole fighting with Sam thing, he thought with a twinge of guilt. "He's going to find out, anyway."
"Well, it's not like Dad won't notice when Sam walks out on us," Dean said bitterly.
"That's what he just said!" Dean refuted hotly. "He said he's not hunting anymore."
Caleb let out a frustrated sigh— these Winchesters were a stubborn lot. He looked for a way to get through to the hotheaded teen. "Listen, Dean, you just gotta give him a little more time."
"I've given him ALL my time," Dean said, looking up from beneath long lashes.
Caleb looked at him, licking his dry lips. He wasn't used to seeing this kind of emotion from Winchester's oldest. Dean was always such a tough kid. "Yeah, I know ya do, Dean," he acknowledged, "and Sammy's lucky to have you lookin' out for him like you do. But how he feels about hunting and how he feels about you are two different things."
"Hunting is what we do," Dean insisted. "It's what we've always done."
"Yeah, but it's not who you are, Dean," Caleb said, popping open a beer and leaning against the counter.
"Dad's not going to let him stop hunting, anyway," Dean said.
"Then you ain't got nothing to worry about," Caleb pointed out.
Dean looked down at his hands. "He's being so stupid."
"He's eleven, Dean. It's a lot to ask from an eleven year old."
"We can't afford to be soft."
Caleb gave Dean a hard look. Boy sounded just like his Daddy. "Dammit, Dean, you don't have to… You're fifteen years old."
"Yeah, and I've been doing this since I was four, and the son of a bitch that killed my mother is still out there, so I'm not looking for a career change any time soon."
"It doesn't have to be like this, Dean. You're a smart kid--"
"No, Caleb, I don't have a choice. Sam doesn't have a choice. This is who we are."
"I just, I don't want them to fight anymore," the boy confessed softly.
"Who?" Caleb snorted. "Mad Dad and Scrappy Sammy? Oh, I'm sure that's just gonna be smooth sailing for here on out."
"I mean, teenagers are known for the sunny dispositions, right?"
"Can I go now?" Dean demanded, rolling his eyes.
"Yeah, you can go… you can go straight down to the training room and start working those exercises I gave you."
"But I already—"
"Do them again, smartass, and while you're at it, maybe think about how to be more sensitive to your younger brother."
"Yeah, I'll get right on that," Dean snarked, rolling his eyes.
"Yeah, you better," Caleb said, cavalierly hoisting the boy to his feet, "get sensitive before I beat your scrawny ass."
"Wow. Now, I feel all motivated to be a better person," Dean said with a smirk.
"You bet your ass you do," Caleb said, meting out a"motivating" smack on the butt.
"Jeez, ow, you pervert."
"Don't get smart," Caleb said, raising an eye brow "and stop being a jackass."
"Yes, sir," Dean said, with enough attitude to preserve his pride, but he moved quick enough under Caleb's narrowing eyes."What is going on in here?" John demanded, appearing in the doorway, all piss and vinegar. His injuries had been healing slowly, leaving him frustrated and he'd been taking it out indiscriminately on his housemates. "Dean, are you giving Caleb any lip?" His tone was murderous.
"I, uh, no, sir," Dean said, straightening automatically to attention as his father barked at him.
"He's just gonna do a few exercises for me," Caleb said, stepping into the warpath with his usual cool.
"I'll take him through," John said, nodding. It was more of an order than an offer.
Dean hid his dismay well, but there was no way he wanted to work with John when he was in this kind of mood. His eyes betrayed another worry, too. John wasn't supposed to be straining this soon after the accident.
"No, Johnny, ya won't," Caleb said and there was more than a hint of steel in his voice. "You're gonna be a good boy and get some rest, just like the doctor ordered."
"I don't need a babysitter, Caleb," John said, glaring.
"Good, 'cause I'm not gonna wipe your ass for you."
"Don't be an jerk," John said, giving in at Caleb's hard glare. "Where's Sammy? I want to talk to him about these necromancy notes."
"He's… um…" Dean stammered. This was not going to go over well.
John's eyes narrowed. "Where is he? I swear to God, if he's wandered off—"
"He didn't, he's just…" Dean tried in Sammy's defense.
"DO YOU KNOW where your brother is?" John thundered.
"John, mind your blood pressure," Caleb broke in, redirecting John's angry glare.
"SHUT up, Caleb. WHERE is my son?"
"Jim's out looking for him right now, they'll be back soon," Caleb said, placating the older hunter.
"Well, when you find my son, you can tell Sam to get his BUTT up to see me," John ranted, grimacing in pain as a tight, angry hand gesture jostled his injuries.
"I'll be in the library—RESTING!" John yelled, storming out.
Dean coughs dryly in the awkward silence that settles after John's dramatic exit. "Well, someone's in for it," Dean said with a uncomfortable grin.
"Yeah, you're just lucky it's not you…at the moment, anyway. So just go Dean, go exercise, or whatever."
"But what about Sam?" He said, sounding young.
Caleb knew Dean wanted to protect Sam, his kid brother, but didn't always know how. Things were more complicated now that Sam was getting older. Kid was pushing the limits. The things he said scared Dean sometimes.
Caleb winked, though, being reassuring. "Jim'll find him and then we'll deal with your pain-in-the-ass little brother and your bitchy-as-hell father when they get back, okay?"
"Yeah, okay," Dean said, moving towards the stairs. Before he clumped down to take out a little of his repressed feelings on the punching bag in the basement, he turned back. "Caleb, I never meant… I'm not… it's just…They make it so fucking hard, you know?"
"Yeah, buddy, I know," Caleb said, quirking half a smile. Dean rolled his eyes at the endearment, disappearing down the stairs.
Caleb held the beer loose in his hands, thinking about the Winchesters as he glanced out the window, hoping Jim would be back soon.