What Calebs Do
By: Ridley C. James
Rating: T-for some language
Disclaimer: Nothing Supernatural belongs to me. As usual.
A/N: This is a little shout out to Tara. I know after the tragic events of this week I needed some comforting and I thought maybe everyone else out there could use some too. Even Dean. Pure classic young Winchester fluff along the lines of another story of mine called What Moms Do. This was inspired by a story Tidia has coming up called Sam's Special Day and true events in a way. My husband coaches baseball, and there's this one kid-an amazing athlete-who never has anyone there to pick him up. He waits and waits and well…as usual my mind turned to the Winchester world. This story is for all those kids who don't have what they need.
"Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys." -Eliza Tabor
"Yeah?" Caleb Reaves snapped into the phone as a vase exploded into shards just above his head. He felt something heavy slam into his skull, sharp edges slicing across his skin. He cursed the caller for distracting him. "Damn it!"
A hesitant and unfamiliar voice echoed through the phone and Caleb mentally berated himself for answering the damn thing in the first place. That's what voicemail was for.
The dark-haired hunter ducked behind a couch as Bobby Singer's voice rang out in the room. The mechanic was trying once again to repeat the correct Latin phrase that would release the angry spirit infesting Carol Jones's pottery shed.
"Are you still there?"
Caleb frowned as the speaker on the phone spoke again. He hesitated, caught off guard by his mentor's sir name. The psychic sometimes impersonated a Winchester, had the fake I.D., but he rarely got called out on it. And if he did, it usually wasn't a good situation.
"Yeah. This is Winchester."
"Mr. Winchester, this is Mark Lawson."
The name rang a bell, but it was kind of hard to think or do a long distance reading with things flying around and Bobby doing his priest from the Exorcist impression. "Do I know you?"
There was another pause on the other end as if the caller was reconsidering the wisdom of their decision.
"I coach your nephew's baseball team."
Warning bells went off in Caleb's head and a face instantly materialized in his frame of reference. Lawson was a young guy, not much older than Caleb. He had met him a month before when he had been in town helping John on a hunt and stuck around to catch one of the Dean's games. "Yeah. I remember."
Reaves chanced a look at the sofa, nearly catching another one of Ms. Jones's prized bowls upside the head for his trouble. Caleb hated to abandon Bobby, but this was Dean and obviously something was wrong. He crawled on his belly towards the door like a soldier through enemy territory. "Is Dean okay?"
"Yeah. I didn't mean to worry you, but we just finished a game in Riversdale."
Caleb frowned, reached the entrance and escaped without further incident. He heard more crashing behind him and quickly closed the door. "Riversdale?" The psychic slid down the wall, and rubbed the throbbing spot on his forehead.
Riversdale wasn't Greeneville where the Winchesters were currently living. His fingers came away wet and sticky and he rolled his eyes as he recognized the coppery scent of blood. Great.
"Yes. It's a few towns over from Greeneville. We hold the regional tournament here. I hate to bother you, but it's getting late and no one has come to pick up your nephew."
Understanding dawned. Caleb rubbed his blood-slicked fingers on his jeans. "Don't you guys have a bus?"
The man on the other line sighed.
"We took a bus here, but it doesn't return after the game. We're a small school system and I mean…most parents come to watch."
Caleb leaned his aching head against the door as he heard the noise from inside the shed start to die down. Singer must have found the right verse. "Can I talk to Dean?"
There was a long moment and Dean's voice finally echoed through the line.
Reaves let out the relieved breath he hadn't realized he had been holding. "Hey, Deuce. What's going on?"
"I told him not to call you. I can walk home, man. It's not that far."
"Dean? Where's John?"
Another pause greeted him and when Dean spoke again, his voice was lower.
"He was supposed to come after he finished work."
"Where's Sammy?" Caleb asked.
"With Mrs. Winthrop."
Reaves nodded even though he knew Dean couldn't see him. Winthrop was the woman John was renting the small garage apartment from. "Let me talk to the coach."
Caleb didn't have time to argue. "Put him on the phone."
The boy didn't reply but Lawson was quickly back on the line.
"Is there any way you could drop my nephew off at his apartment? It's not far from the school. I'll give you permission."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Reaves. We're not supposed to travel with students in our car. The liabilities are too great. And even if I could, I would not leave him home without proper adult supervision. I'm just an interim teacher. I could get in big trouble."
Caleb looked out at the darkening horizon. Of course there were rules. Nothing was ever simple. "I'm over an hour away, but I'll be there."
"I don't mind waiting."
Reaves pushed himself to his feet, swayed slightly. "Thanks." Caleb cut the connection and cautiously stuck his head back in the door. "Bobby?"
"You expecting Linda Blair?" Singer growled from his position in the center of the destroyed room. "What the hell happened to you, Kid?"
"I have to hit the road." Caleb told him with a half-assed grin, not bothering to explain his sudden departure. "I take it you can handle Ms. Jones on your own?"
Singer rolled his eyes, mumbling something about undependable rookies under his breath.
"If I can handle the baddie by myself, I think I can deal with an old lady and her poodle."
"You're my hero, man." Caleb stepped inside long enough to pick up his bag and discarded jacket. "I'll catch up with you at Jim's after finals next week-buy you a beer."
He hurried out, not giving the man a chance to reply, protest, or ask any questions Caleb didn't want to answer. The psychic would smooth Bobby's ruffled feathers later. Right now he had more important issues to deal with.
The trip to Riversdale was closer to an hour and a half and Caleb drove eighty most of the way. He jumped out of the Jeep, sighing at the empty parking lot. The lights had already come on in the ball field. He could make out the lanky form of Mark Lawson as he lobbed balls into outfield for his one lone fielder to catch.
"Hey?" Caleb called out as he jogged across home plate. "Sorry I'm late."
"That's okay." The coach waved Dean in and then held a hand out to Caleb. "Mark."
"Caleb." Reaves nodded towards Dean. "I'm sorry about all this. My brother got called out of town on a job. We got our signals crossed. I was supposed to pick up Dean."
"That's okay." Mark gestured to the nasty-looking gash on Caleb's head. "You look like you've had a rough day."
Reaves hadn't even given his appearance much thought. His clothes were covered in potter's clay and primer. Not to mention being splattered with his own blood. He had quickly patched up his head with some butterfly bandages at a gas station bathroom that would have had his father yelling about streptococcal bacteria and other insidious infections. "Yeah, I was helping a friend out with a construction project. Nearly got my ass pummeled by some dry wall."
Lawson nodded. "Dean said you were an Architecture major. Auburn right?"
Caleb was surprised by the fact the kid had told the coach anything about him. "It's my first year."
The coach raked a critical eye over the tall, muscular young man. "You play ball?"
Caleb laughed, looking out to where Dean was using a bucket to collect the last of the baseballs his coach had hit to him. "No. I'm afraid Dean got all the Jackie Robinson mojo."
Mark smiled. "He's really good. Most sixth graders don't see much playing time. But your nephew plays better than some of my fourteen-year-olds. He helped us out today."
"I don't doubt it."
"You should come to the game tomorrow. It's the last one. We're in the final round."
Mark glanced up at Caleb. "Maybe your brother can come, too."
Reaves recognized the inflection in the coach's voice, the bait on a hook look on his face. He was fishing and Caleb had to bite back his first response. The one where he would tell the man to mind his own fucking business. "Yeah." Caleb scratched the back of his head. "John works out of town a lot."
Mark turned his gaze towards Dean who was now walking to home plate. "I can imagine that's hard."
Caleb instantly picked up on the mixed emotions rolling off the eleven-year-old. Anger. Frustration. Shame. Then there was the biggest underlying one. The primary feeling of hurt. "You have no idea," he replied. Caleb quickly forced a smirk on his face when the kid joined them. "'Bout time, Deuce. I've been waiting forever."
"We should go." The kid barely looked at him, not acknowledging the attempted humor.
He started for the gate leading to the parking lot. "Sammy will be wondering where we are."
"I'll see you tomorrow, Dean." Coach Lawson said with a nod to Caleb.
Reaves flashed the man an apologetic look before following after Dean. The kid swung by the dugout to pick up his gear, but didn't slow down until he reached Caleb's Jeep.
"You okay?" The psychic asked as he watched the boy roughly toss his bat and glove into the backseat. "Dean?"
Dean opened the passenger door and climbed in without replying. Caleb fished his keys out of his jeans with a sigh and joined him inside. It was going to be a long trip to Greeneville.
The eleven-year-old began toying with the radio as soon as Caleb started the engine, keeping the volume loud to dissuade any attempts at conversation. Reaves wasn't above taking over the controls though, especially after driving for two hours to get the kid's unappreciative ass. "What?" he demanded, turning the classic rock station off.
Dean glared at him. "I was listening to that."
Caleb shrugged. "You know the rule. Driver picks the music."
The kid shoved back in his seat, crossing his arms over his chest. "Then play something. I'll shut my cakehole."
Reaves shook his head. "No music until you tell me what the hell is your problem."
"You're my problem," Dean snapped. "Why did you have to come and get me?"
Caleb's brow arched up. "Because your coach called me?" He pulled the Jeep out onto the main road, shooting a quick glance in the boy's direction. "What the hell was I suppose to do? Leave you here? Johnny would have loved that."
Dean glanced out the passenger's side window. "I would have found a ride."
Caleb took the road that would lead them to the small 'apple pie' town of Greeneville.
"Yeah. In the back of a Department of Children Services state vehicle maybe."
Dean whipped his head around, his body tensing at the perceived insult. "I can take care of myself. I don't need you." I don't need anybody.
The thought was private and not spoken out loud, but Caleb couldn't exactly help picking up on the strong emotions pouring off the boy. He hadn't seen Dean so worked up and it reminded him to put his own feelings aside.
They were a lot alike and the older Dean got, the more Caleb realized if one didn't back down on some points, then things could easily escalate. "I know you can handle things, Deuce. But when it comes to normal people, like your coach and your teachers, situations are pretty black and white. In their world eleven-year-olds need grown-up people to do things for them-things like driving. They think all kids need supervision."
"Like you're a grown-up." Dean muttered, turning back to the window.
Caleb cut his eyes to stare momentarily at the back of the boy's head. Was it only a few months ago Dean had shown up on his doorstep at Auburn wanting him to fix things? Now he was acting like he was the enemy and Reaves had to admit it stung. He hardened his voice. "I'm the closest thing you've got at the moment. So deal with it."
The boy snorted. "Lucky me."
Reaves returned his gaze to the road, his grip tightening on the wheel. He took a deep breath and one-handedly pulled his cell from his pocket. He tossed it to Dean. "Call Sammy's babysitter. Tell her we're on the way so she doesn't freak out."
Dean caught the phone without comment. He dialed Mrs. Winthrop, talking to her first and then to his brother. "We'll be there in a little while, Sammy."
The youngest Winchester must have inquired as to the 'we' because Reaves heard Dean sigh. "Caleb's bringing me. No. Fine. Okay. Did you do your homework? Okay. Bye, Sam."
"First graders have homework?" Caleb asked when Dean finally cut the connection and tossed the cell between them. The psychic said it lightly, trying once more to find an opening for a conversation. He chanced another glance at the kid when Dean didn't answer. "Deuce?" The psychic tried again, not liking the uncharacteristic silent treatment. "Talk to me."
Dean looked at him, his face void of emotion- voice flat. "Mrs. Winthrop said Dad called. Told her I might be late."
Reaves took a deep breath, let it out slowly. "He knows you can handle things."
Sometimes Caleb wished John thought more along the same lines as those normal adults Reaves was just telling Dean about. "Probably figured you would catch a ride with one of the other players."
At least the kid was talking. "So…the coach said you played good tonight?"
"I mostly warmed the bench." Dean turned his gaze to the window. "You didn't miss anything. Nobody did."
"Right." Caleb sighed. Maybe he could offer a white flag. "You want to swing by and pick up a pizza or something for dinner? Your pick."
Dean looked at the hunter like he had just insulted his mother. "You think we don't have anything to eat at home?"
"What?" Caleb glanced at him. So much for peace offerings. "No. I thought you might want some pizza to celebrate the winning game."
"Don't do me any more favors, Caleb." The kid slouched further in the seat. "We have plenty of things to eat at home. Save Mac's money."
"Okay." Reaves bit his lip to keep from saying anything he might regret. "Have it your way." He reached out and turned the radio on letting Metallica fill the uncomfortable silence between them.
"And then Cody Hanson dropped his tarantula, Harry, that he had brought for show and tell and everybody started screaming. Ms. Hogan even climbed up on a desk!"
Caleb nodded, suddenly wondering if he had looked the gift horse of peace and quiet in the mouth. Sam hadn't stopped chattering since they picked him up from Mrs. Winthrop's. "Can't say I blame her, runt. Spiders are not cool."
The six-year-old frowned, looking up at Reaves with a serious scowl. "But she doesn't let us climb on desks. And spiders are cool. I helped Cody catch him."
"You picked it up?" Dean and Caleb asked in tandem. Dean rolled his eyes, returning to his state of brooding at the kitchen table when Reaves shot him an amused glance.
Sam harrumphed dramatically. "They won't hurt you."
Caleb picked the kid up, sitting him on the kitchen counter. He ruffled Sam's too-long hair. "Tell that to Spider Man, kiddo." He pointed a finger at him. "Leave the insect wrangling to Cody and your squeamish teacher. We kind of like you without the bug eyes and red Lycra."
Sam giggled. "I want to be like Spider Man. I could walk on the ceiling."
"But you'd have to eat flies." Caleb pointed out. "Lots and lots of flies."
"No way." Sam shook his head. "Spidey eats normal food."
"Speaking of food…" Reaves reached over Sam's head to open one of the cabinets above him. "What's for dinner?"
"Something special," Sam told him. "You said we could celebrate Dean's team winning the ballgame."
"It wasn't a big deal." Dean spoke up, glancing up from his math book to look at his brother. He pointedly moved his gaze to Reaves. "And I'm not hungry."
Caleb started to tell him that was a good thing considering the cupboards were nearly bare, but he refrained from adding fuel to the fire. He opened another door and searched the contents. "How about Spaghettio's?"
Sam shook his head. "We ate that the last two nights."
"Sam…" Dean warned.
The little boy deflated some. "Whatever's fine."
"No. You're right." Caleb continued. "This calls for something big." He pulled down a couple of cans and a loaf of bread. "I guess I could make Moose's secret recipe."
"Moose?" Dean glanced up. "Your roommate Moose?" The older Winchester sibling had met the man in question when he had stayed at Auburn with Caleb.
"You sound doubtful?" Reaves raised his brow in challenge. Challenging was better than pissed, he supposed. "I'll have you know, Deuce, that Orville has a special relationship with food."
The boy frowned. "The fact he weighs about three-hundred pounds kind of gives that away, Caleb."
Okay. The express use of 'Caleb' was really grating on Reaves's nerves. He refocused his attention on Sam. "College athletes have to eat special kinds of food…but I'm not sure you're scrawny brother and you are up for it, Arachnid Boy. Maybe we should play it safe and stick to Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee."
"Please!" Sam wiggled excitedly. "Dean might play college baseball one day. Moose food would be good for him. And I need to get taller so Daddy will let me come on a hunt."
"Good point." Caleb seemed to consider the idea and then sighed. "But only if you can keep a secret."
"I can keep a secret." Sam held up three fingers like he was about to do a Scout's pledge. "I never told Jim that I saw you and that girl from his church wrestling in the barn. Remember?"
"And we all know how Pastor Jim and his church feels about wrestling," Dean spoke up snidely.
Caleb frowned, covering Sam's hand with his own and pushing it down. "And make sure you keep it that way, Sammy." He shot a glance to Dean. "I guess I can trust both of you."
"You can. I promise." The six-year-old proclaimed enthusiastically.
"Okay." Reaves clapped his hands and rubbed them together. He moved to the refrigerator and removed a package of hotdogs. Moving back to where he had left Sam perched on the counter he placed the items in front of the boy. "Where's the Mac-N-Cheese?"
Sam pointed to the cabinet below them. "In there."
"Good. That's the most important ingredient."
"What's it called?" Sam queried, frowning at all the odd items.
"H-MC Squared." Caleb replied and held back a grin when Sam's brow furrowed.
"And all that stuff goes in it?"
"It does." Reaves nodded. "Hotdogs. Corn. Macaroni-n-Cheese. All topped with crust-less bread."
Sam's eyes widened. "That's all my favorite foods."
"You don't say?"
Dean groaned at the obvious off the cuff creation. He shook his head at his little brother's gullibility. "It sounds disgusting."
"And in there lies the genius that is Moose." Caleb told him. "It sounds gross, yet tastes delicious."
"What's the secret part?" Sam asked thoughtfully.
"Ketchup?" The boy parroted.
Reaves nodded. "Trust me. You're going to love it."
An hour later found all three boys in the living room, their stomachs full. Dean staked out the couch; Caleb claimed John's recliner and Sam was sprawled on the floor in front of the small 19 inch television. "What's this one?" The six-year-old asked, bringing Reaves's gaze from the screen.
"You're supposed to do your homework yourself, Sam." Dean spoke up before Caleb could look at the workbook his brother was pointing to. "Besides it's getting late, Caleb probably needs to go."
"You're leaving?" Sam looked up at Reaves. "But Daddy's not here. Aren't you going to stay with us?"
Again Dean didn't give the psychic a chance to respond. "We've been here the last two nights without Dad, Sam. We'll be fine."
"But Caleb has a head wound." The little boy moved his gaze to his brother. "He shouldn't be driving."
Reaves sighed. "I'm not going anywhere, runt." Caleb glanced at Dean, who was glaring at him yet again. "That is if your brother doesn't run me off."
"I don't care." Dean went back to his work. "Like anybody listens to me anyway."
"Good." Sam said cheerfully. He bounced to a cross-legged position in front of Caleb.
"Can you drive us to school tomorrow? I hate the bus. Stupid Carlos from the high school calls Dean bad names."
"Is that so?" Reaves raised a brow.
"Shut up, Sam." Dean slammed his math book shut. "We're riding the bus. Just like always. It's fine."
"But why?" Sam cried.
Dean growled deep in his throat, not in the mood to cater to his little brother. "Caleb has a head wound. Remember?"
Sam looked at Caleb. "You'll be better in the morning. Right?"
"I'm fine, Sammy."
"Good. Can you come and be my show-n-tell? I could hold up cards and you could guess them. Nobody has brought a mind reader yet."
"I can probably swing the short drive to your school, Runt, but no card tricks. I don't think Jim would like the whole freakiness display."
"But you'll come back and get me?" Sam scooted closer, nearly climbing up the hunter's leg. "And we can go watch Dean's game?"
Caleb didn't miss Dean's scowl was growing by the minute. "Might as well. Not like Greeneville is a hotbed of activity."
"Then there's no reason for you not to go back to Alabama." Dean said, heatedly. "I don't need you to come to the game. And we don't need you hanging around here to fix dinner."
"Cool, can we have HC Squared again tomorrow night?" Sam asked. "It was delicious."
Caleb shook his head. The six-year-old was the only one who seemed to actually like the poor man's potluck. "How about pizza instead?" Reaves offered.
Dean shoved his books to the floor and leapt from the couch. "How about you stop being a dickhead?" He shouted at Reaves.
Sam's head whipped up at his older brother's reaction and Caleb slowly stood. "What the hell is your problem, Deuce? I'm sick of the attitude." Dean would never pull that kind of crap with John. But maybe that was the whole point.
"And I'm sick of you!"
Before Caleb could reply the boy turned and stalked down the hallway. The slamming of his bedroom door echoed in the small apartment. "That went well," Reaves slumped into the chair. He had never signed on for any of this. The dead week keg party Moose had tried to talk him into was sounding better and better.
Sam looked at him, his hesitant voice shattering any delusions of escape. "Is Dean mad at you because you missed his game?"
The psychic sighed. "I don't think it's me he's mad at, Sammy."
A lengthy study session of spelling words, two story books, and a glass of water later, found Caleb reclined on the couch, exhausted. He wasn't sure how Dean survived the nightly routine on a regular basis. The depressing thought had him digging his cell phone out of his pocket and hitting the key that would speed dial the person who should have been there.
Voicemail picked up and Reaves faltered before relenting to the dissatisfying option. "It's me. I'm in Greeneville. Nothing's wrong…just dropped by on my way back to school." He paused for a moment and then pushed on. "Look, John, Dean's last game is tomorrow. Try to make it. Try hard." Caleb disconnected the call, knowing he'd probably get the cold shoulder for a few weeks, but hoping the stubborn bastard would at least show.
He looked around at the trashed living room and figured he was not up for one more domestic task. Caleb's head was killing him and sleep would be a welcome reprieve. John could clean up his mess for a change.
Reaves wasn't sure how long it had been since he drifted off, but the squeak of floorboards had him sitting up quickly on the couch. The scratchy afghan he had covered up with fell from his shoulders. He blinked rapidly, his hand searching for the knife he had stuffed under the cushion. But then Sam's face came into view and Caleb groaned wearily.
"Damn, Sammy. What are you doing up?" The kid was mere inches from him now, and he crawled up on the sofa, dragging his blanket and the one-eyed WooBee bear with him.
"What?" Caleb sat up straighter-fog clearing instantly from his mind. "Is he hurt?"
Sam shook his head. "I don't think so." The little boy rubbed at his tired eyes. "He's sad."
"Damn." Reaves shoved a hand through his hair, silently cursing John Winchester. A hurt Dean he could handle, but a disappointed eleven-year-old kid was a different situation completely. "Did you talk to him?" He asked the youngest Winchester sibling.
"He told me to go back to sleep." Sam squeezed WooBee to his chest. "But I can't sleep when he's crying. Dean never cries."
"Everybody cries, Sam." Caleb said quietly. Dean was just really, really good at keeping it a secret.
"I don't know how to fix it." The six-year-old crawled closer to Reaves, seeking comfort for himself even as he tried to find it for his brother. "You do it."
"Sammy…" Reaves rubbed at his eyes. "I don't think I'm the person for the job."
"Of course you are." The boy replied, confidently. "You're Caleb. That's what Calebs do. You draw dragons and bring pizza and you watch out for Dean."
Reaves swallowed thickly, wincing at the way Sam's innocent trust and complete faith could cut like a knife. So maybe he did understand how Dean could be so diligent in his preservation of normalcy. "Is that so?"
Sam nodded, reclining on the couch alongside Reaves. "WooBee and me will keep your spot warm."
"Sure you will." Caleb stood and tossed the afghan over the boy. "Just make sure the bear finds a tree if he needs to go from all that water you insisted he needed."
Sam smiled sleepily up at him. "I've got it covered."
"Wish I could say the same." Caleb grumbled, resigned to entering foreign territory without back up or a weapon to speak of.
Dean heard the door open and buried his head further into the pillow. He had told Sam to go back to bed, but as usual the six-year-old had selective hearing. The bed dipped when someone sat on the edge and Dean stilled his breathing, wishing he could just disappear completely beneath the blankets.
"You okay, Deuce?"
Great. "Go away." Was his brilliant reply and even he cringed at the raw, scratchy tone of his voice. It screamed crybaby.
He heard Caleb sigh heavily and knew he was made. "Are you sick?"
Before he could answer, Reaves hand brushed against his wet face and he jerked away.
"No! I was trying to sleep."
"Counting sheep works better than the waterworks." Caleb tried for humor, whether it was meant to help him or Dean feel better he wasn't sure. "And it spares you that puffy, emotional hangover look in the morning."
"I'm not crying!" Dean snapped, rolling over to glare up at the older man. He quickly wiped a sleeve over his face to erase any trace that might be seen from Sam's Scooby Doo nightlight. "Satisfied?"
"No. I'm light years from satisfied." Caleb looked down at him, a frown wrinkling his brow. "I'm awake at midnight, a munchkin, his stuffed sidekick and security blanket have taken over my bed and now you're continuing with the spoiled brat impersonation. What gives?"
Dean rolled back over without another word.
Reaves growled low in his throat, reaching out and grasping the boy's shoulder. "Deuce, I swear to God if you don't start talking I'm going to…"
"What?" Dean shouted at him when he was roughly rolled onto his back. "You'll call Pastor Jim and tell on me? Or maybe you'll call Mac and tell him what a bad father Dad's being?"
Caleb's frown grew and he shook his head slowly. "Dean, I'm not calling anybody. I haven't talked to Jim or my dad. It's just us."
"I don't need you to be here."
"Yeah. That you've said before. You want me to leave? Is that it?"
Dean continued to stare at him. It wasn't really what he wanted, but the alternative wasn't possible. And what was the point? There was nothing anyone could do to change things. Dean had to make the best of the situation. "Yes."
Reaves shrugged. "Too bad. I'm not going anywhere."
Dean felt his eyes fill and he struggled to keep it together. He didn't even know why in the hell he was crying. "I hate you."
"Yeah. Well, I'm not your biggest fan right now either." Caleb tightened his grip on him when Dean tried to escape by facing the wall again. "But I'm here. And I'm going to the game tomorrow." To prove his point Reaves reclined on the bed, stretching his jean-clad legs the length of the mattress, his sock-covered feet hanging over the edge of the twin mattress. "Just so you know."
"Why?" Dean asked, miserably. He was mortified when one tear disobeyed him and slid down his cheek. "You're not supposed to be here. It's not your job."
Caleb turned to look at him. "Sam thinks differently. Apparently this is what I do."
"Sammy is a little kid! He still believes in Santa Claus and thinks I'm some kind of super hero. He doesn't know better."
"What doesn't he know, Dean? That his dad should be here to fix his dinner and read him a story? That his big brother should be playing ball and going to sleepovers instead of running a fucking household? Or maybe that grownups are suppose to keep promises-especially ones that are important to their kids?"
Dean shook his head. Caleb knew he had cruelly torn away the last of the boy's defenses when the kid's slight frame shook with a held back sob. "Dad hasn't been to a game all year. You've gone to five, Mac came to two and even stupid Bobby came to one but Dad doesn't care. All he cares about is hunting-about finding Mom's killer."
Caleb took a deep breath and ran his hand over the boy's hair. Who said kids didn't keep score? "Deuce. Listen to me. John doesn't think about it the way you're thinking about it. In his mind, he's protecting people, protecting you and Sammy. He doesn't mean to hurt you."
"But he does."
And there it was.
The unabashed, hard to swallow, bitter tasting truth. Who said it would set you free? For a powerless kid it was a cage.
There was no appropriate response. No comeback. Only an opportunity to be human. Caleb felt weak against its daunting demands. It called for an equal risk-a terrible confession. But this was Dean. "I know he does."
His own eyes stung when Dean nodded, accepting. "But you're here."
"And you're not going anywhere?"
"No. I'm not."
Dean rolled over again, but this time it was towards Caleb, and the eighteen-year-old held onto him as the kid wrapped an arm over his chest and buried his head against his side. The eighteen year-old could feel the warm tears soak through his thin layer of shirts and he held on tighter, hoping he could keep them both from falling apart.
They stayed that way for a while, neither saying anything. Caleb wasn't sure if there was anything he could say to make it all better, but then Dean threw him a life line.
"I hit a homerun and had three RBI's."
The words were muffled but Caleb heard them and accepted them gladly. "That's not half bad for a bench warmer, Deuce."
Dean pulled away, looking up at him. "I tagged three runners out in the two innings I played. Coach Lawson says I'm the best first-baseman he's had on a middle school team."
Caleb reached out and brushed away the last trace of a lone tear. "Jackie Robinson didn't have anything on you, Champ."
Dean smirked. "And I don't want pizza tomorrow. I want steak."
"I think I can spare some of Mac's money for that."
"By the way..." Dean grinned at him. "What happened to your head, Damien?"
Caleb snorted. "Stupid Bobby and his fucked up Latin verses."
"Hardest part of my body. I'm good." Reaves gave him a serious look. "Speaking of hard heads, do I need to talk to this Carlos kid?"
"No. I got it covered." The kid's smile faded some. "Thanks for coming."
"Don't mention it." The psychic gave him a lop-side grin. "It's what Calebs do."
Dean frowned. "You've been hanging out in Sammy land too long."
Reaves groaned. "I know and I think I might have promised him to be his freak for the show-n-tell just to get him to go to bed."
"You have to draw the line somewhere." Dean shook his head in disappointment. He lay down, yawning widely. "If not, arachnid boy will use all eight of his legs to walk all over you."
"Tell me about it." Caleb laughed. "I think I lost my bed."
The eleven-year-old glanced up at him. "Sorry, but you're not sharing mine. I have to rest up for the big game and you snore."
"You're all heart, kid."
"That's what you love about me."
Reaves nodded. "Yeah. I guess it is."
Dean held his gaze. "The game starts at four."
Caleb pushed himself to a sitting position and then stood. He pulled the comforter up and tucked it around Dean. "That gives me time to pick up Sammy and swing by for those cowbells we'll be ringing after you hit it out of the park."
Dean rolled his eyes, trying to hide his elation. "Don't embarrass me, Damien. I have a reputation to uphold."
"Oh, I won't embarrass you, Deuce." Caleb would leave that to Jim and Bobby, who he would be calling first thing in the morning. Along with Mackland, they would make one hell of a cheering section. And if John did show up…then the more the merrier. Maybe even Moose and some of the guys from the football team would like a road trip. If Oliver got a kick out Dean, then Sam would entertain him more. Either way Dean would be surprised, secretly proud and light years away from disappointed-nowhere in the vicinity of sad.
And in the end that's all any Caleb could ask for.
Hug a kid today!- Ridley