School ended late for Dean Winchester on Monday. He had a thirty minute detention with a teacher who really and truly didn't like him much. It might have something to do with the comment he made about how she looked like a picnic table, but he hadn't meant for her to actually hear it. But still, the mistake had been made and now every single time he breathed a breath too hard he found himself in detention. Today Mrs. Picnic Table had him clean the entire classroom, organize papers and wash the chalk board. It didn't really matter he supposed, he would be free of school in a couple months time anyway.

As he approached the door to the apartment they currently inhabited, he heard his brother and father arguing. Dean sighed; it had to be bad if he could hear them outside of the door.

"Dad! I want to go to the party."

"There is a poltergeist—"

"I don't care! I want to live a normal life."

"That isn't for us Sammy?"

"Why not? Because something killed a mother I don't remember? And now you are on some holy quest to find it? That isn't my fight dad! That is yours and Dean's. Go ask your perfect soldier of a son to fix the poltergeist problem!" Dean flinched at the angry words. His stomach flipped when Sam called him a perfect soldier. He didn't want to be thought of as that to his little brother. He didn't really want to be a soldier. He was afraid, though, that that was all he was good for.

"Dean is a good son. Maybe you should try being one."

"A good son. Huh." Sam ran a hand through his longish hair and his teeth clenched. Dean knew that this meant that Sam was rearing up for another go at their father. "So, let me get this straight. A good son is one who doesn't think for himself. Who doesn't want his own life. One that does everything you say without question. Without hesitation. Well, then Dean can have the title of good son. I don't want to be a mindless witless empty person that allows you to fill them up with anything and then pours it out the way you tell him to. No thank you! I want to be my own person, I want to be…" Sam stopped when he saw Dean standing in the doorway. Sam's face went slack. He meant what he had said to his father, but he never wanted Dean to hear what he was saying.

"Dean." he said quietly. Dean shook his head absolving him from his words. They hurt more than any knife that had ever been plunged into his body by outside forces. It hurt more than anything he had ever felt, it was suffocating, and like a weight pressing on his stomach, but he wasn't going to say anything. He wasn't going to make Sam feel guilty for who he was or what he felt about things. Sammy had every right to think and feel the way he did. He wasn't going to "fill him up and make him pour it out" in any way other than how Sammy wanted to. Dean cleared his throat.

"So you found out that it is a poltergeist?" Dean asked as he took off his tattered jean jacket, the one that he had kept wearing in order for Sammy to have the new one he wanted; there just hadn't been enough money for two. It didn't matter, as long as Sammy had what he needed.

"Yeah. We need to go out there tonight." John said adequately distracted from his youngest son.

"Okay. Cool. What do you need me to do?" Dean gave Sam the look that meant get out while the getting is good. Sam nodded, swallowed hard, and hurried away from the situation. After their father had explained what needed done, Dean decided to be brave and confront their father.

"Dad, let Sammy go. It's just a routine thing. We'll be fine. There is no reason-"

"Dean. He needs to learn.."

"What? That evil is everywhere? He knows that."

"He needs to learn loyalty."

"To a cause he doesn't believe in?"

"No, to family."

"He is loyal." Dean said with some effort. "He needs to learn how to have fun. He's 14. Maybe he just needs to be with people his own age." Dean shrugged. He saw the war playing out in his father's mind. "Dad. Mom would want him to be happy." Dean didn't play the mom card often and when he did it usually worked, and like normal his father relented and headed off towards the bedroom where Sam and Dean slept to talk to his youngest son.

Dean sighed and sat at the kitchen table replaying all of the words that Sam had said. Each time he was left with holes in his heart that bled. He thought he had done right by that kid, but he thought wrong. He would do better, be a better brother. Be what Sam wanted him to be. Something.

Dean had been especially careful the week of his birthday, to not do anything to get his teacher's panties in a knot and give him detention, because he was looking forward to spending his 18th birthday watching bad movies with his little brother and eating popcorn. That was his ideal birthday. Sam had said that he would stay with him.

Dean opened the mailbox and was surprised to find an envelope in there. Even more surprised to find that it was addressed to Dean R. Winchester. He carefully opened it and found an acceptance letter to the University of South Dakota.

"Well, I'll be damned." He said under his breath. "They will let anyone into college." Unexpectedly happy, because he had only applied on a whim, right after Sam had called him a perfect mindless soldier—he had wanted to prove that he had been more than that, and apparently someone else agreed. Excited to show his brother, he went inside. Sam was putting his coat on.

"Goin' out to get the videos?" Dean asked happily.

"No. Goin' out with my friends."

"Oh." Dean said slowly. Sam must have forgotten his promise. Dean nodded. "Have fun little brother." Sam smiled and headed out of the door. Dean looked back down at the acceptance letter and realized that he couldn't go. Someone had to take care of Sammy and their dad wouldn't be the one. Maybe when Sam turned 18. Maybe. He threw the letter in the trash and lay down on his bed and listened to his walkman Metallica would make it all better. He allowed the pounding beat to fill his head and distract him from his thoughts. And that distraction led him to dreamless sleep.

Sam came home later that evening and found Dean in his bed sleeping. Sam had realized belatedly that today was his brother's birthday and that he had promised to spend the evening with him watching movies and eating pop corn. That was all Dean had wanted for his birthday. A 2 dollar rental movie, his brother, and a dollar bag of popcorn. Sam hated himself for it.