First Solo Flight
Disclaimer: Sadly, I still don't own them and I'm making no money from them.
A/N: Okay, so I lied. I thought I'd written my last story before the premier of season two, but this one has been roaming around my imagination for a while and I figured I'd get it out of my system before the next school session starts. We'll see if I can really do that. Reviews are welcome; don't make me beg.
"Let me see."
"Let me see." John Winchester repeated to his younger son.
Reluctantly, Sam held out his hand for John to inspect. He'd been cleaning and sharpening some of the knives in the weapons locker, as John told him to do, and accidentally cut his hand just as John was walking into the room.
"Come over to the sink." John said, more gently than Sam was used to hearing. John cleaned his son's hand and wrapped it in a clean towel. "I'll get the first aid kit. I don't think it needs stitches. Sit down."
Sam sat at the old dinette while John went to the bathroom for the first aid supplies. He glanced at his father when he returned to the kitchen; John silently applied an antibiotic ointment and wrapped his son's hand in gauze.
"Thanks, Dad." he said quietly, not looking at his father.
"I'll finish cleaning the knives." John said. "You should get to your homework."
"What?" Sam said, looking up sharply. John was hard on his sons when it came to learning to use weapons and studying about various creatures and monsters most people thought of only as legends, but normal school was not a huge priority for him. He wanted the boys to finish and to stay out of trouble, but it tended to come after the studies that he considered to be more important. Dean did well enough to graduate, but he excelled in the areas John wanted him to.
"You have homework, don't you?" John asked as he put away the supplies he'd used on Sam's injury.
"Yes, sir, but –" Sam glanced around the room, his eye landing on the clock. "Where's Dean?"
John hesitated for only a moment. "He's with Aidan."
"I didn't know Aidan was in town."
"He just got here a while ago."
"Is he working a job?"
"No, he's just passing through." John stood to take the first aid kit back to the bathroom. "Come on, get to your homework. I'll make dinner once I've finished up the knives."
Sam knew better than to question his father, but something was going on. He could tell by the way John was acting; he never suggested Sam do his homework instead of something related to the hunt. Normally he would have been angry with Sam for hurting himself while doing something as menial as sharpening the weapons. He went to the room he and his nineteen year old brother shared and tried to concentrate on his history homework. After a few minutes, he put the book aside and sat in the center of his bed, pulling the telephone closer to him. He hesitated another few minutes before dialing his brother's cell phone number.
"Hey, kid." Dean answered on the second ring. Sam heard crowd noise in the background. "What's up?"
"Where are you?"
"Aidan came into town. We're just hanging out – didn't Dad tell you?"
"Yeah." Sam said, trying to keep his tone light. "But I thought something might be wrong; he told me to do my homework."
Dean smiled to himself. His younger brother had a tendency to over-react to things, but he could see where he'd find John telling him to do his homework a little unsettling and he wondered what his father was thinking.
"He walked in while I was cleaning the knives." Sam continued. "He offered to finish it up for me and –"
"And what, Sammy?"
"He wasn't mad when I cut myself."
"You cut yourself? Are you okay?"
"Yeah." Sam sounded a little embarrassed. "Dad took care of it. No stitches."
"Good. You should be more careful, though. Look, I'll be home later, okay? Everything is fine." Dean said as he glanced across the table at his friend.
Sam was reassured by his brother's voice. "Is Aidan going to stay with us?"
"Yeah, at least for the night."
"Okay. I'll see you later."
Dean slipped his phone back into his jacket pocket.
"Curious kid." Aidan Pritchard observed.
"Yeah." Dean was distracted.
"I can't believe he's already suspicious. We might not be able to do this without telling him."
"Your dad doesn't want him to know."
"Yeah, well, Dad doesn't always get what he wants where Sammy is concerned. The kid is too smart for his own good."
Aidan nodded. He was a few years older than Dean and had known the Winchesters since the boys were young. A fellow hunter, he helped John with the boys and was almost like a member of the family. Dean looked up to him, but was also able to relate to him as a friend.
"You sure you want to do this?" Aidan asked Dean a few minutes later.
"Yeah, I want to do it. Sammy will be fine; Dad will take care of him."
Aidan laughed. "Taking care of Sammy was never your dad's strong suite. The kid is lucky he has you."
"Come on, man. Dad's not that bad."
Aidan said nothing.
"It's not like I have to protect the kid from him. He'll be fine."
"Of course he will. Now let's finish up and get out of here."
John and Sam ate in relative silence, but that wasn't unusual these days. Sam was starting to realize he wanted more out of his life than hunting and killing supernatural beings. Instead of following his father's orders unquestioningly like Dean did, Sam always wanted to know why. He begged his father to stay in town long enough for him to finish the school year but he really wanted was to graduate from high school without having to move again. He was even thinking about going to college. John loved his younger son, but had difficulty relating to him these days.
"I'll do the dishes." Sam said once they had finished eating.
"You need to keep your hand dry until it starts to heal." John said. "How does it feel? Do you need some Tylenol or something?"
"No, thanks, I'm fine."
John stood up and started to clear the table.
"Dad –" Sam began. Before he could continue Dean and Aidan came through the back door. Sam smiled at them.
"Hey Sammy." Aidan smiled, ruffling his hair.
Sam pulled away, pretending to be angry. "Knock it off, jerk."
"You missed me, you know you did." Aidan joked.
Sam grinned, unable to maintain the façade. He liked having Aidan around and often wished he'd spend more time with them. The group spent the next couple of hours laughing and reminiscing with a familial ease. John was almost jealous of how lighthearted his younger son was with Aidan.
"I'm going to bed." Sam announced just before 11:00. "Some of us have to get up in the morning. Will you be here when I get home from school, Aidan?"
He glanced at John, then at Dean. "I don't think so, kid. But I'll be back through in a couple of days and I thought I might spend a little time here."
Sam was disappointed. "Oh. Well, okay. I guess I'll see you in a couple of days." He still thought there was something going on.
"I'll come up with you." Dean said to his brother.
"I don't need to be tucked in."
"Hey, someone has to make sure you brush your teeth." Dean grinned.
Sam rolled his eyes and headed upstairs. Dean was sitting on the edge of his own bed when Sam came out of the bathroom a few minutes later.
"You gonna tell me what's going on?" Sam asked as he sat opposite his brother. "Why is Aidan here?"
Dean leaned forward, clasping his hands. "He's here to pick me up."
"Why? Where are you going?"
"I'm going to work a job with him."
Sam's eyes widened. Dean was nineteen years old, but John had yet to let him do a job on his own and, despite having a few trusted friends, he certainly hadn't let him leave town to work a job with someone else.
"What kind of job? Is Dad going?"
"No, Sammy, Dad isn't going."
"So, what's the job?"
"Nothing big. Aidan just needs some backup and Dad thinks it's a good one for me to cut my teeth on. I can't work with Dad forever; at least not exclusively."
"So why all the mystery?"
"No mystery. Dad's a little nervous about me going, is all. And we thought you wouldn't be too happy about it either."
Sam looked at his brother. They didn't keep secrets from one another; at least not big ones or for very long. "What aren't you telling me? What's the job?"
"Some people have gone missing in a small town about a day's drive from here. Aidan has been there for a week or so, has it narrowed down to a couple different things."
Sam knew there was still something Dean wasn't telling him. He looked at him closely. "Narrowed it down to what? And why is Dad letting you go instead of going himself?"
"Sam –" Dean rubbed his palms on his jeans. "It's just training, okay?"
Sam still wasn't convinced, but he could tell this was something Dean really didn't want to talk about. He was pretty sure he could convince his brother to tell him what he wanted to know, but something kept him from pushing. Surely their father wouldn't let Dean get into something too dangerous… of course Sam didn't believe that. John had been getting them into dangerous situations for a long time.
The younger brother slid under the covers. "When are you leaving?"
"Before I go to school?"
"You'll be careful?"
"Will you call tomorrow night?"
"I'll call tomorrow; I can't promise it will be tomorrow night."
Sam looked thoughtful, then nodded.
Dean stood up and slapped him playfully on his arm. "Get some sleep, Sammy."
"You'd better get some sleep, too, if you're leaving that early."
"I'll be back up in a bit."
John walked into his sons' bedroom quietly the next morning and shook Dean to wake him. Immediately lucid, Dean got out of bed and went down the hall to shower. He'd packed a bag the night before and left it downstairs, but after showering and getting dressed he went back to the bedroom. He watched his brother, realizing suddenly that they had never been separated. For fifteen years, ever since his little brother was born, they had been together. Sobered by the thought, he turned to leave the room, but stopped when Sam called his name.
"I didn't mean to wake you." he said, sitting on the edge of Sam's bed.
Sam rubbed his eyes and sat up. "You have to say goodbye."
"You can't leave until you say goodbye."
"I'm not saying goodbye to you, Sam. I'll be back in a couple of days. Try not to fight with Dad while I'm gone, okay?"
Dean smiled at his brother, hoping he looked encouraging. "You don't have to get up for school for a couple of hours. Why don't you try to get some more sleep?"
"I want to come downstairs –"
"Sam, I really would prefer you stay up here."
"I just -- I don't know; I just want it that way."
Sam looked at his brother and nodded reluctantly.
"I'll see you in a couple of days." Dean said.
Sam nodded again and watched his brother walk out of the bedroom; he had a horrible feeling that he would never see that happen again.