A/N: I don't know why I'm doing an author's note. I don't have anything to say.
The Joys of Growing Old
Dean was not having a good day. His back ached, his legs ached, his hips ached, his arms ached, there weren't many parts of him that didn't ache. He was out of breath, he could barely jog fifty yards without having to stop for a break, his hands were fumbling on the gun and you can forget any kind of knife work. And his eyesight sucked. Oh, and he was stuck with this punk kid while his dad was off kicking ass.
"What's the matter, gramps? Can't keep up?" Dean glared up at the kid, taking deep gulps of air, trying to get enough breath to say something.
"Shut... up, you... you..."
"...Young whippersnapper?" the kid finished helpfully. Dean lunged for him but missed by a mile and had to go back to concentrating on breathing. "What are you even doing down here?"
"That's a... question I could... ask you."
"What, a dude's not allowed to hang out in a sewer? Anyway, I asked first!"
"I'm here to... save you." The kid gave him a long, hard stare.
"You can't even breathe. How are you supposed to save me?" Dean seriously considered clocking him, but then realised he'd probably just prove the kid's point.
"I ran into... some difficulties. Anyway... that's what my dad's here for."
"Yeah, you know... the guy who's off kicking that... big black cloud's ass." Dean finally straightened up and stretched out his back.
"That's your dad?" The kid did not look convinced.
"How gullible do you think I am? You're, like, twice his age!"
"Well, you're obviously gullible enough to think that opening a box will bring you 'untold riches'! And I am not, I'm more like half his age, dude!"
"You're way too old to use 'dude'. Old people are not allowed to use 'dude'. And you've really aged badly if you expect me to believe you're younger than he is."
"You're a real disrespectful little prick, you know that?"
"So I've been told." Dean's anger flared. He grabbed the kid's collar – taking the kid by surprise he was proud to note – and dragged him closer.
"Look here, you little punk, I don't much like being left to babysit you, but we need you because the one that opened the box has to close it for everything to work. I'm twenty-three, okay? And if that big, old cloud of evil i you /i let out hadn't quadrupled my age, I'd be kicking your ass so hard you'd feel it for a week. Are we clear?" He gave the kid a shake before letting him go. The kid stumbled back a little and then stared at the ground, toeing at the dirt.
"Yeah, I guess." He looked back up at Dean with some – about damn time! – traces of remorse in his eyes. "Sorry about quadrupling your age."
"So long as it's not permanent, we don't have a problem."
"You make a kinda grumpy old man."
"I don't think that's got anything to do with my age," said Dean, staring pointedly at the kid. The kid ignored him.
"You need me to shut the box?"
"Are you sure?"
"'Cause I don't really want to go near it again."
"Maybe you shoulda thought of that before you opened it."
"Those guys said it would make me rich!" Dean put a hand on the kid's back and started leading him towards where John was setting everything up, or at least where he should have been, because it was a bit too quiet.
"Kid, some advice, don't believe what random people tell you. They're probably lying."
"Are you lying about needing me to shut the box?"
"Yes, actually, we only need your hands. But we thought you might prefer to be attached to them." The kid gulped and Dean was glad the darkness hid his grin.
"So, what did I let out exactly?"
"A big black cloud of chaotic evil."
"What was it doing in a box?"
"You ever heard of Pandora?"
"Well, it was in the box to stop it getting out."
"What happens if it gets out?"
"Dude!" Dean turned the flashlight on himself. "Look at me! This happens! And I thought I was meant to be the one with the shit memory."
"So it'll go around making everyone older?"
"It would go around being chaotic and evil, what more do you need to know?"
"Sorry for being curious."
"You should be." They rounded a corner, Dean scanned the walls and floor with the flashlight. "Dad?" he yelled, "Dad? Where are you?"
"This way!" Well, they were definitely going in the right direction. After two more twists in the passageway, John came into view, along with the black cloud twisting and circling angrily in front of him, held at bay by a thin line of chalk on the ceiling. "Hurry up, grandpa!" John called.
"I've only been old for ten minutes and I'm already sick of the jokes," Dean grumbled to himself.
"Do I have to go over there?" said the kid, staring at the twisting cloud in dread before glancing longingly over his shoulder towards freedom.
"It's you or your hands, kid." The kid glanced at his hands.
"Will it be able to get me?"
"That's what me and Dad are here for."
"But you're both way old."
"Seriously, I'm twenty-three. And don't let my dad hear you calling him old." The kid looked up at Dean, all his bad attitude gone and just looking like the scared thirteen-year-old he was. Dean put a hand on his shoulder and steered him closer to John and the box.
"What took you so long? Arthritis playing up?" John grinned as though the joke he'd just made was even remotely funny. Dean clenched his jaw and refused to rise to the bait.
"So, what do I have to do?" asked the kid.
"You just open the box, then close it," answered John.
"That's all you need to worry about." The kid just stared the small, carved, but otherwise plain wooden box, not moving a muscle. John raised an eyebrow at Dean, who stepped forward and forcibly placed the kid's hands on the box, holding them there with his own. The awkward kneeling position was playing absolute havoc with his back, though.
"The sooner we get this over with, the sooner I can stop aching," he said quietly, then, more loudly, "Dad, you ready?"
"What's going to happen?" the kid asked, his fingers twitching beneath Dean's. Dean was shocked by how old and wrinkled his hands looked, like they'd had all the water sucked out of them, it was freaky, so Dean turned his gaze towards the kid staring up at him with frightened eyes.
"You're going to hold onto the box and that thing there is going to go in it."
"What happens if I let go?" Dean spent a few moments calculating his best answer.
John stepped in beside them and reached up, ready to break the line of chalk.
"Okay, Dean, open the box on three. One... two... three." Dean opened the box, holding the kid's hands onto it at the same moment John broke the line. It was like unleashing a hurricane. Dean knew his dad was chanting something, but all he could hear was the wind in his ears and the kid next to him screaming his head off. Then the wind turned cold, freezing cold, and Dean had trouble controlling his and the kid's shivers to keep their hands locked on the box.
The wind started to die down. Dean wasn't sure how long it took, but it couldn't have been that long because the kid was still screaming and Dean was pretty sure he hadn't stopped for breath.
"Shut it, Dean!" John yelled and Dean slammed the lid closed and quickly flipped the latch. The kid's screams slowly died off once he realised there wasn't any more wind and it was all over. They slowly stood up, still holding tightly onto the box.
"Is that it?" asked the kid, "Is it done?" but before anyone could answer, he looked up at Dean. "Holy shit, you're young!" Dean threw his hands up in disgust.
"Yes! Twenty-three! How many times do I have to say it?"
"I didn't believe you."
"Kid, you have a weird way of choosing what to believe."
"Stop calling me 'kid', my name's Toby."
"You turned me into an eighty-year-old, i kid /i , I can call you whatever I want." Toby shrugged and handed the box over to John. They started back towards the ladder out of the sewers and into sunlight and fresh air.
"Never thought I'd live to see you grow that old," said John.
"Ugh, man, I hope I never live to see me grow that old again. It sucked." They walked a few more steps in silence. "And I think I needed a new hip."
Thank you for reading and feel free to tell me how awful I am for not even alluding to poor old Sam even once.