Living Between Countdowns

Only one hour left.

In spite of the fact that class had just started, Dean Winchester watched the clock and mentally willed it to go faster. At the front of the class the teacher was going on about something or other but Dean had it blocked out. To his side he could hear a few of the students whispering about the latest movie or television show that was supposedly "all the rage" but Dean had never heard of it and didn't really care.

As far the 17-year-old was concerned, only two things held any importance in his life. The first was his ability to hunt down and kill evil wherever he found it and the second was the ability to keep that same evil from killing his pain in the butt little brother.

Everything else, such as school, was secondary.

Of course, added to that was the fact that Dean quite simply didn't GET school.

He didn't understand the cliques and groupies, he neither knew nor cared about the latest music band or movie and he sure as heck didn't know how to fit into an environment where not only was there nothing that needed killing but there was nothing that needed protecting either.

In short, Dean simply didn't fit in.

Moving around a lot made it worse as, in the past, Dean would no sooner start making friends then Dad would pack them off on the road again.

Eventually he gave up trying. At each new school Dean would find a place in the back and ignore all attempts at communication with other students. Even girls were roundly ignored inside of the school building.

Mainly, this was because Dean didn't know how to respond correctly in that atmosphere. Outside of school he was a hunter and a guardian and THAT Dean knew exactly what to say and how to act at all times.

Inside school he was expected to listen to teachers who didn't have the faintest idea of what waited in the dark and to care about "social activities" that Dean simply didn't have the time or patience for.

Not that he'd ever admit it under pain of death but he felt lost in school and he despised not only feeling that way but also whatever it was causing the feeling. Hence, he hated school. Nobody wanted to talk about their latest target practice score and he COULDN'T talk about the last vengeful spirit they'd faced. He had actually tried once or twice talking about the rigors of trying to raise his baby brother but that went over about as well as talking about the gun he'd gotten for Christmas when he was twelve.

Man, he loved that gun.

As if seeing his sudden grin, the teacher naturally chose that moment to ask him a question. Of course Dean, who didn't have the faintest idea what she had been talking about, fumbled and that of course led to snickers from his classmates who had, in addition to saddling him with a creepy loner title, had also labeled him as being not all that bright.

Personally, Dean thought it wasn't entirely bright to laugh at someone you thought was creepy but he let it go and added the moment to his ever growing list of reasons he didn't like school.

On the wall, the clock now showed only thirty minutes left. Dean shifted slightly in his chair and ignored the sidelong glances from students around him.

It seemed it was an eternity later that the bell finally rang and Dean was able to leave.

In his mind, the countdown continued even as he grabbed his backpack and headed out of the class and then the building. The school he was currently going too was a combination junior high and high school so he had to dodge his way around students ranging from around twelve to nearly eighteen.

Making his way over to the bleachers at the far end of the campus, overlooking the rather small athletic field, Dean climbed up on one and dumped his bag beside him. Reaching in, he grabbed his walkman and put it on and then sat his lunch down beside him.

Across the field, near the buildings, a lone figure detached itself from the mob and Dean's mental countdown began its last leg.

A few moments later a shadow fell briefly over him and a small figure clambered up beside him on the bench.

At thirteen, Sam had only just entered junior high and barely made the registration deadline so that he and Dean could be placed in the same school. It was actually the first time the two of them had been in the same school at the same time. Sam was still small, though from the looks of it he'd be a freaking giant someday, and his presence didn't exactly do Dean's tough guy image a lot of good. It also didn't do any good for Sam's reputation as a good student.

As if either boy cared.

Sam cheerfully plopped his bag down and dug his own lunch out. Placing it on his lap, he grinned at Dean and said, "Hi."

The countdown reached zero.

Dean grinned back at him and ruffled the kid's hair, "Hey brat, how's it going?"

"Fine except for this crappy lunch someone made me," Sam groused, "it's all healthy!" Pulling out an apple he shot at glare at his brother, as they both knew full well who had made the lunch, and groused, "I couldn't even trade it! Any of it!"

Reaching into his own bag, Dean pulled out a large brownie he'd swiped from somewhere and held it out to his side without looking. It vanished immediately as if into a black hole and Dean just shook his head and accepted the apple that was shoved into his hand a moment later.

"What do you want for your birthday?"
Well there was a question out of the blue. Glancing sideways, Dean raised an eyebrow and said, "What?"

"I know you heard me," Sam shot back, "What do you want?"

Dean shrugged and said, "An iron machete with a hollow handle that can hold rock salt, accelerant and matches."

Beside him Sam looked at him for a moment and then said, "Wouldn't it be better to just have a lighter in one of the compartments? That way you could have the accelerant and the actual light in one spot so it'd be faster and you would have less risk of the accelerant leaking out if the handle were damaged."

"True," Dean conceded, "Then we could put holy water in the final compartment."

"All you'd need would be a place to stick a Latin scroll and you'd have pretty much everything covered."

"Just about," Dean agreed, "Still are a couple of things out there you'd need extra stuff for."

"More compartments?"

"It'd end up too big."

Sam frowned, feeling challenged. and proceeded to haul a piece of paper out of his backpack and start drawing what he thought the ultimate all-in-one hunter's weapon would look like. He ate as he drew and Dean idly leaned over and watched the kid work.

In between eating and drawing, Sam also went through his standard spiel of trying to weasel Dean's lunch out of him under the pretense that he was starving to death. Since Dean was the one who kept the kid fed he knew it wasn't true but he still ended up handing over quite a bit of what he had packed in his own bag.

It was the main reason he packed twice as much in his as he would normally eat. Of course, he could just always pack more in Sam's lunch but then it wouldn't be near as much fun AND he wouldn't be able to hold his generosity over the kid's head later when trying to get him to do his chores.

Sam was still drawing away, and quickly finding a true all-in-one weapon would be too large to actually use, which is exactly what Dean had said; not that Sam would ever just take his word for it, when the bell rang to signal the end of lunch. Sam looked mildly irritated at having his line of thought interrupted but he obediently began to gather his things up, along with Dean, and the two began the trek back toward the buildings. Their final two classes lay in opposite directions from one another so they split up about halfway back, with Dean easily manipulating the younger teen into throwing away all of the trash on his way back.

He watched until Sam vanished into his own building and then Dean headed off toward his.

As he walked he glanced down at his watch and worked out exactly how much time was left until school let out and he and Sam could meet up again and go home.

In his head, a new countdown began.