You know, I don't really like those stories that portray Dean as dumb. It's kinda like showing Watson being stupid just because Holmes was so smart. Just because Dean is more physical (though Sam has been pretty awesome in that arena lately) is no reason to think he isn't just as smart. I wasn't sure about posting this, but hotshow liked it, so what the heck!!
Moody Sam, Emotional Sam, even Guilty Sam he could handle. But Bored Sam? Dean was seriously rethinking his previous commitment not to kill his brother. It had been an unusually quiet week. There was nothing even remotely disturbing in the papers and even though Sam had turned up a couple of interesting prospects, a quick examination had proven the deaths really were of natural causes, though bizarre. Now Sam was ticking away at his laptop, searching for something, anything, to get them out of this crappy motel room.
Dean flipped through his latest copy of Weekly World News. He only bought it when he really wanted to annoy Sam, which was now. If he heard about one more potential rabid, demonic squirrel or something else that was totally insane, he just might strangle his brother. So, to keep his own personal demons at bay, Dean sat reading an absurd story about the batboy living in the New York subway. Some people really will believe anything.
Dean flipped the page. It had better not be another Rottweiler mistaken for a Hellhound.
"I got something for you."
Dean chanced a glance up. Sam was grinning and pointing to his laptop. Also not a good sign.
"What?" He needed a damn good reason to move. It had taken the past hour to force the bed to mold to his butt so he could while away his time comfortably.
Sam's eyes darted to the computer and back to Dean. Oh – this was going to be good. "It's a kind of test. When you finish, it tells you a joke."
Lying to big brother now, huh? "What kind of joke?" he asked carefully, watching for Sam's reaction.
Sam's face lit up. "The higher your score, the dirtier the joke. Come on, you'll love it."
Dean sighed heavily. Sam was really, really bored if he was resorting to this. He rolled off the bed to look at the laptop. What the hell? An IQ test? He cut his eyes at Sam who was smiling innocently. Oh, you really want to play this game? Okay, fine.
"Higher the score the better the joke? Okay, I'm game." Sam leapt out of his seat as if it were on fire. His brother picked up this morning's local paper while Dean sat at the table.
Dean gave the screen a cursory glance. It was a standard internet IQ test, but this one was timed. He cut his eyes at Sam, who was trying to hide his grin behind the paper. Well, let's see what it takes to wipe that smirk off your face, Sammy. Dean tore into the test with enthusiasm.
Twenty minutes later Dean stood up. "Let's go," he said, looking around for his wallet.
"What? Where?" Sam looked up, confused. "What about the test?"
"Finished," Dean shrugged, forcing his poker face into place.
"It's an hour test, Dean. You couldn't have finished it already." Sam stalked over to the laptop. He scowled at the screen.
Dean knew when he stood up it was still calculating his score. "It was taking too long to show the joke. We can check it when we get back. Come on."
Sam shot him a dirty look. "It won't take that long, Dean."
Dean shoved his wallet into his pocket. "It didn't really seem like a dirty joke test to me," he said casually. Another dirty look from Sam. This was getting good. "So what is it? Really."
Sam sighed, running a hand through that mop of hair. "It's an IQ test. I thought it'd be fun to compare scores."
Not for long, you won't, Dean thought, bouncing on the balls of his feet. "So what did you get?"
Sam looked up through his bangs. "Usually around 130 or so." He shrugged.
"Still cranking?" Dean asked. He really was hungry. That was the only reason he decided to take the test so quickly. He knew from experience that he could draw it out to the full hour if he wanted. He watched as Sam's jaw dropped and his eyes widened.
"Sam?" It was taking monumental effort to hold in his laughter, making the hunger pangs even worse.
Sam closed the laptop, giving him a suspicious glare. "Ready."
Sam followed his brother out to the car, turning that number over and over in his mind. 142. How the hell had Dean been able to score a 142 in only twenty minutes? He cheated, Sam decided. That had to be it. Dean cheated.
"So what was the point?" Dean asked as he started the car.
Dean seemed a little too calm for having just been lied to. Sam turned to study his brother. "How did you do it?" he asked, dropping all pretense.
"Do what?" Dean asked innocently as he looked for a place to eat, which no doubt would serve greasy hamburgers and fries.
Sam faced his obnoxious brother. "You cheated. How did you do it?"
Dean rolled his eyes as he turned off the street into a parking lot. "Sam, how could I possibly cheat? You were sitting there the whole time."
"But I wasn't watching over your shoulder," Sam pointed out. "You did something. You cheated."
"Okay, fine." Dean parked. "I cheated. Happy? Can we go eat now?" Without waiting for Sam to answer, Dean stepped out of the car. Great, now they were both irritated. It wasn't supposed to be like this. Dean was supposed to get a lower score than Sam so he could tease his big brother about it.
Sam growled to himself before following his brother inside. Okay, Dean cheated on the test. He had to. But how? Sam studied big brother over his menu. Dean had to have recognized that it was an IQ test and not a dirty joke test and then spent twenty minutes hacking around to get a screen that would display that kind of high score. Sam frowned to himself. In twenty minutes? Heck, it would take him at least that long to figure out how to do it, and Dean was not nearly as proficient in the hacking area as he was.
Sam drummed his fingers on the table, trying to solve this riddle. "How?" he asked as their drinks were delivered.
"How what?" Dean snarled, though the irritation did not reach his eyes. Dean really looked more, well, amused than anything.
"How did you cheat?" Sam asked pointedly, trying to get his brother's attention from the swaying hips of the waitress.
"You're just going to have to figure that one out on your own," Dean replied with a smirk.
Sam groaned inwardly. A challenge. He never could resist a challenge, whether it was who got the highest grade, who could spit the farthest, or how many taunts does it take to get Dean Winchester to slug you? Fine. He could do this. He was the one who got the full ride to Stanford as pre-law, wasn't he? Sam mentally picked up the gauntlet his brother had thrown down.
Two days. Two freaking days of scouring the internet for ways to cheat on a simple internet IQ test and Sam had nothing. Absolutely nothing. Occasionally Dean would stop by to peek over his shoulder and grin mysteriously, which just made Sam that much more determined to figure this out. No one who reads the Weekly World News could have an IQ of 142 he told himself, watching Dean flip through the tabloid yet again.
One dead-end after another and Dean just watched with a secret smile which disappeared the instant Sam stopped looking out of the corner of his eye and actually faced his brother. Sam was ready to physically threaten his big brother, except he knew it would never do any good. He had learned at a very early age that Dean could resist physical torment better than anyone, but subtle emotional appeals were highly effective.
Sam sighed loudly. "This is going to drive me nuts," he mumbled, making sure he said it loud enough for Dean to hear.
"Not going to work, Sammy," Dean replied without looking up. "I'm not telling."
Damn it! Okay, he was going to need some outside help on this one. "I'm going for a walk," Sam said, standing. "To clear my head."
Dean looked downright pleased as Sam left the room. As soon as he was clear, Sam pulled out his cell. He called the first person he could think of who might have the answer handy.
"Hey, Ellen. Can I talk to Ash?" Sam said into the phone. Ellen wanted to know if they were okay, how he and Dean were, if Dean was better now that Sam had been found. Sam looked quizzically at his phone. "What do you mean, is Dean better now that he found me?"
"Well, he was a real wreck when you were missing, Sam. My phone practically rang off the hook. I had a couple of regulars who offered to disconnect it for me," she laughed, "but I was afraid he'd come barging in here loaded for bear. Or Wendingo."
That did sound like Dean. "Yeah, probably. He's fine, thanks for asking. I just have a quick question for Ash if he's around."
"Okay." There was a pause. "You doing good too, sweetie? I know experiencing something like that would have to be…" her voice trailed off.
Hard? Impossible? You got that right! "Yeah, I'm fine. Is Ash there?"
"Hmm? Ash? Yeah, yeah, he's here. Hang on."
Thank God! It was about time. Sam was beginning to wonder if she would ever let him talk to the guy. Wait a minute. Dean was calling her when he was possessed? Sam guessed he was glad Dean had someone to talk to, but Ellen? She seemed a little old for Dean, not his type at all. Or was that the point? His thoughts were interrupted by a voice.
"It's the doc. Talk to me, man." Sam could picture Ash flipping his mullet around and smiled.
"Hey, Ash. Just a quick question. If you wanted to cheat on one of those internet IQ tests, how would you do it?"
"Why would I want to do that, man? I'm a genius."
Sam rolled his eyes, grateful Ash could not see him through the phone. "I'm not saying you would need to, Ash, I'm just asking if it could be done."
"Well, yeah, I guess. You could make a graphic that looked just like the test results with the score you wanted. I bet you could even make it interactive so it looked like it was processing."
Yes! That had to be it! "How long would it take to make something like that?" Sam asked.
"For you or me?" Ash's voice was smug and superior, but Sam ignored it.
"For you, Ash." Take that, multiply it by ten and get the time it might take Dean.
"Not too long. Half an hour or so. I could probably take the test in less time than that."
Sam felt a prickly sensation start at the base of his skull and creep down his spine. "Did you say half an hour?"
"Yeah. It would probably take that long to get the interactive part to work. Why?"
"Is there any way Dean could do it in twenty minutes?" Sam's mouth was dry.
"Not unless he already had it ready to go. Or he just took the test in twenty minutes."
"Right. Thanks, Ash." Sam disconnected the call. No way, he told himself, there was just no way. Sam stared at the phone in his hand and selected another number. Maybe he would have better luck with this one.
"Hello?" Bobby's voice sounded like gravel shaking through invisible phone lines.
"Hey, Bobby. It's Sam. Got a minute?"
"For one of you boys? Anytime." Bobby's voice was warm and welcoming. He was probably Sam's favorite of Dad's surviving friends.
"Um, well, this is going to sound really stupid," how do you say 'I think my brother cheated on an IQ test and it's driving me crazy?'
"What is it, Sam? After the trickster, I don't think you can surprise me anymore."
Sam chuckled despite himself. That had been an interesting case, to say the least. Thank God Bobby had been able to show up.
"Well, I kinda challenged Dean to an IQ test," Sam paused. Boy, was this going to sound terrible.
"So he beat my score. By quite a bit." Sam admitted, hearing how childish it sounded. "He said he cheated, but I can't figure out how. Even Ash said it would be quicker to just take the test than cheat on it."
"How long did it take him?" Bobby's voice was low, which raised Sam's suspicions another notch.
"Twenty minutes. Why?"
He heard Bobby take a couple of quick breaths. "Son of a bitch," he mumbled. Sam waited, hoping the old man would elaborate. "You know, after the shotgun thing, and then seeing how quick he picked up the trickster's pattern, I've wondered."
"Bobby? You're not making a lot of sense. What did you wonder?" And what shotgun thing?
"Sam. You know your father was one smart son of a bitch, right?" Sam resisted responding, he had been sick of hearing Dean mention it every other word when the man was still alive and now he felt guilty feeling the same ire rise when Bobby mentioned it. "I never met a man alive who could put patterns together like that man. Well, it makes sense that the apple don't fall too far from the tree, don't you think?"
"Bobby, still not following you." When had Bobby taken to rambling? One of the things Sam liked about him was how direct and to the point he was. This just seemed so out of character.
"Look at it this way, Sam. You were smart enough to earn a full ride to Stanford, right?" Sam nodded and murmured "uh-huh". "After only two victims Dean had the trickster's pattern, even though he had no idea what you boys were dealing with. To be honest, I don't think Dean had ever heard of a trickster before, and he was still halfway to figuring it out. That's pretty impressive."
Sam hated to agree, especially since he had scoffed when Dean first suggested that there was a link between the victims, but Bobby was right. And Dean was good at picking out patterns, doing anagrams – even in his head, drawing conclusions most people would never consider because most people had no idea what was out there. Sam sighed. "Yeah, I guess. What did you say about the shotgun?"
There was a chuckle. "Oh, that. Well, one of the first times I met your dad you were just a toddler and Dean would have been, I don't know, six or seven? Anyway, your dad was after this spirit and had apparently been lecturing Dean hard and heavy on the value of salt to ward off evil. He stopped by to get some information from me, and wound up leaving you boys while he went on the hunt. Anyway, Dean ran across a bag of rock salt out by the road. Winter was coming on and I always salt my drive so it won't freeze over. Dean came back to the house with a handful of rock salt and asked me what it was. When I told him, his eyes got real big. Well, sir, he took that handful with him and stuck it somewhere safe until your dad showed up.
"Your dad got back pretty late, but Dean was waiting up for him. He walked straight up to your father and said, and I'll never forget it, 'Daddy, I know how to stop wasting money on consecrated iron shot.' But Dean couldn't pronounce consecrated yet, so it took me a minute to figure out what he'd said, but your dad got it. He asked, 'Yeah, son? How's that?' Dean held out that handful of rock salt. 'Just use this. It'll make the spirit go away,' he told us. We must have stared at him forever, like he's grown three heads or something, because he finally just turned around and went to bed. But the next day your dad got up and made a whole mess of rock salt rounds for the shotgun."
Sam listened in stunned silence.
"John called me a couple of weeks later, told me that rock salt was the way to go for spirits."
"So you're…you're telling me you think Dean really took that test." Did his voice always sound so squeaky?
"No, I'm telling you that it would not surprise me. Look, I know that John was one smart son of a bitch and that you are. So it really doesn't surprise me that your brother could do as well on some stupid test as you can." Bobby's story-telling voice faded into a sharp, recriminating growl.
"Uh, no. I guess not." Sam stood for another moment, just holding the phone and trying to process everything Bobby told him.
"Sam?" Bobby sounded a little nicer this time. "Didn't you ever find it odd that Dean was able to graduate high school with a B average?"
"No, not really. Lots of people graduate with Bs."
"But lots of people didn't go to six or seven different high schools, never studied, never did homework, and still passed with a decent enough GPA to be accepted into college, did they?"
Sam's head snapped up. "What? College? Dean never wanted to go to college."
A sigh hissed through the phone. "Maybe. Maybe not. But I know for a fact he was accepted on a partial scholarship and turned it down. Said he wanted to stay with you and your dad. Personally, I don't think he ever intended to go, just wanted to see if he could."
Sam nodded to himself. "Thanks, Bobby. I'll talk to you later." He had to force the words to leave his mouth. After he disconnected that call, Sam really did need a walk.
Damn, that walk of Sam's was taking a long time. Dean checked his watch again as he closed the laptop. Sam had been gone for nearly two hours. Not good. Dean was reaching for his cell when he heard the doorknob turn. Sam walked in.
"Where the hell have you been?" Dean demanded, angry now that he knew Sam was safe.
Sam shrugged. "Just out walking," he said, not looking Dean in the face. He headed straight over to his laptop and flipped it open.
Dean watched his brother for a minute, certain there was something wrong. He did not see any obvious telltale signs. "Sam? You wearing that charm Bobby gave you?" he demanded.
Sam sighed, pulling it out so Dean could see it. Satisfied, Dean went back to his magazines. Ah yes, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition.
"Dean? Did you ever take the SATs?" Sam's voice cut through the busty bikini layout.
"What?" Dean looked up, startled. Where the hell did that come from? "Did I what?"
"Did you ever take the SATs?" Sam repeated, now looking directly at him.
"Now why would I do that?" Dean scoffed, side-stepping the question as he buried his nose in flesh and oh-so-little clothing.
"Did you ever want to go to college?" Sam was still staring at him.
Dean scoffed. "After spending twelve years trying to get out of school? No thanks, Sammy. That was your thing." Now, where the hell was that beach and why was it he had not been there at least once by now? "Sam? I think I know where we need to go next." Dean held up the page. "To the beach!"
Sam rolled his eyes before returning his attention to his computer. Dean shrugged. It sounded like a great idea to him. They really could use a vacation. Sitting around in a motel room driving each other crazy was not what he'd call a vacation.
"Liar," Sam said, his voice brimming with confidence.
"About what? The beach?" Dean did not bother to look up. This whole IQ test thing had turned out great. Sam had a quest and he was free to read whatever he wanted.
"The SAT. You did take it."
Dean looked up into Sam's smug face. "Huh? What are you talking about?"
Sam spun his laptop around. "You're still on your graduating high school's list of highest SAT scores in the history of the school. Something you want to tell me, Dean?"
"Nope." Dean dropped his eyes back to the babes, not that he was really looking any more. Damn it. Sam was still supposed to think he'd cheated. He had almost worked out a way of superficially creating a high test score in less that twenty minutes, but he needed a little more time on the computer to be sure. Dean mentally kicked himself for finishing it too quick; he should have taken the whole hour. And what score did it show, anyway? High enough to send Sam over the edge. He felt a smirk coming on.
With an exasperated sigh, Dean looked up. "It was required, okay? The only way my English teacher was going to let me graduate was if I took the SAT and got a decent score on the English part." He shrugged. That still did not explain the highest score in the history of the school, though, did it? "So I cheated," he finished, returning his attention to his magazine. "Dude. We gotta go to Fuji."
"I don't think so, Dean." He could feel Sam's eyes boring through his skull.
"Oh, come on, Sam. I'm sure we can find something evil to hunt in Fuji."
"First off, it's Fiji. Fuji is a camera. And second, you're smart."
Dean chanced a quick glance up. Sam was grinning like the cat who ate the whole friggin' chicken, thank you, the canary was just an appetizer.
"I told you," Dean turned the page, "I cheated."
"Yeah? Show me," Sam challenged. He pulled the second chair around the table so he could watch Dean at the computer. "I want to see how you did it, because I couldn't figure it out."
Dean sighed, pushing off the bed. He would have liked to try it just once more before showing Sam, but this would have to do. Dean sat at the laptop, giving Sam a stony glare, before settling in to work. In twenty two minutes he had a screen that looked exactly like the website's computing screen running and this time, when it finished, it displayed a score of 180, which had to be a lot higher than the real thing. Ha! Success!
"Very impressive," Sam said with a nod. "Ash is going to be jealous when he finds out that you could do that faster than him."
"What?" Dean's heart dropped into his stomach. That was supposed to convince Sam he cheated, not that he was smarter. Oh, shit!
"I called Ash. He said it would probably take him thirty minutes or so to figure out how to do that." Sam nodded at the screen.
The little wheels in his head spun rapidly. How was he going to skate out of this one? "Well, obviously it wasn't as hard as Ash thought it would be. I'll bet he could do this in half the time." Was it getting warmer in here?
Sam's arms crossed over his chest. "Dean. Why can't you just admit that you're smart?"
Dean growled at his little brother. "Because I'm not." He flung himself back on the bed, not caring how his magazines bounced under him. He wrestled the swimsuit edition out from under his leg. "You're the smart one. I kick ass." He flipped it open to the Fiji spread.
"Dad kicked ass, too," Sam pointed out, "and you always called him a genius."
Dean put the whole conversation on mute. This was not freaking happening. He refused to participate any longer.
Sam sighed as he turned away from the laptop. Well, that had been both enlightening and a colossal waste of time. He had not seen Dean this closed off since he'd shot his brother full of rock salt inside that haunted asylum. Maybe he was using the wrong tactic.
"You know, those internet IQ tests are just for fun. They don't mean anything," Sam said carefully, standing to gauge his brother's reaction. Nothing.
"It doesn't mean one of us is smarter than the other." Dean winced? Ah, was that what was bothering his big brother? Sam valued education, so perhaps Dean assumed Sam must also value intelligence, and being more intelligent. Well, Dean had him there, didn't he? Time to be a little more grown up.
"So. Where did you learn how to take tests so well?" Sam tried. He was rewarded with a slight shrug. Well, that was better than being frozen out entirely.
"You know, if you'd ever done your homework, I'll bet you could have had a full scholarship to any college."
Now Dean did look up. "What the hell for? I'd probably wound up like Ash, kicked out for fighting."
Well, at least he was talking again. Sam grinned. "Probably. Too bad you never dropped in for a visit at Stanford. There were a couple of guys I might not have minded you looking in on."
Dean grinned. "Yeah, right. You would have been pissed." His eyes went back down to the magazine. "What were their names?"
"Harry Little and John Schwartz. Real jerks."
Dean nodded. "Especially Schwartz. Can't believe you didn't take him out for hitting on your girlfriend all the time."
"I wanted to, but Jess would never…" Sam's eyes narrowed. "How the hell did you know that?"
Dean looked down at his watch. "Oh, look! Lunchtime. Let's go!" Before Sam could open his mouth again Dean was out the door, shrugging into his jacket, keys jangling.
"Dean!" Sam followed quickly. "Dean," he shouted, "how did you know about John Schwartz? Dean?" Sam ran out to the Impala before Dean could leave him. He noticed the smirk on his brother's face as he slid into the passenger seat. Yep, apparently the apples had fallen right beside that stubborn old tree.
Sam felt a grin coming on as he accepted the new challenge. "Dean? You told me you and Dad used to check up on me at school. How exactly?"