Populus Alica Bee
Summary: Dean discovers a new talent.
Disclaimer: Don't own, don't make any money from this.
Thanks once again to Soar for the awesome beta job. Any left over mistakes are my own. Thanks also to Soar and JuliaAurelia for their encouragement and feedback, I wasn't sure about posting this.
Thirteen year old Dean Winchester sat hunched over his desk, doodling in his notebook. He knew that he should be paying attention to the teacher at the front of the classroom, but all he could think about was the end of the day. Bobby had promised that he would take him and Sammy to the shooting range he had constructed behind his house.
He and his brother were staying with Bobby for the school year. John was working several jobs, and he couldn't take the boys. It would have meant putting them in a different school every week, so Bobby offered to take the boys so that they could have some stability, and John could see them whenever he was in the area.
"Okay, class," Mrs Clayton address her class of 7th graders. "We're going to do something a bit different this English class."
Dean perked up a little at that. "No poetry," he called out.
Angela Clayton resisted the urge to sigh as she regarded her newest student. He had just transferred in a few weeks ago and when he had arrived in her class, Angela had immediately pegged him as a trouble maker. He couldn't seem to take anything seriously and of the two assignments she had given, both had been turned in late and he'd failed the first test he'd taken.
"I have some really good news. The Watertown Tribune has agreed to sponsor our school this year, and we are going to attempt to qualify a student for the Scripps National Spelling Bee," Mrs. Clayton announced.
"Mrs. Clayton," a girl in the front row spoke up. "Can anyone try to qualify? I'd really like to."
"Yes, Elizabeth," Mrs. Clayton confirmed, pleased that Elizabeth wanted to participate. Elizabeth was the smartest kid in the class and Angela's favourite.
Elizabeth smiled smugly. Dean wanted to throw something at her.
"How many of you have participated in a spelling bee before?" the teacher wanted to know.
A few students put up their hands.
"Okay, so what we're going to do today is have a practice round, just so you can get the feel of how it works. I have a list of words, they're all taken from the spelling lists that you've had this year. I need everyone to stand up." Angela paused and waited for the class to follow her directions. "Now, I am going to give you a word. I want you to say the word before you attempt to spell it, so I know you understood it. You're allowed ask for a definition of the word, its language of origin, alternate pronunciations and to hear the word in a sentence."
"Can we ask how to spell it?" Dean asked. He couldn't help himself.
The teacher ignored him.
Dean decided that even if she gave him his own name, he was going to miss it on purpose. This wasn't his thing, it was Sammy's. He'd love this.
Dean smiled as he thought of his 9 year old brother. He was smart, way smarter than Elizabeth. He would probably win if he was there.
"Charlene, your first word is entourage," Mrs. Clayton said.
Dean found that he knew how to spell a lot of the words that the teacher was giving out, and it surprised him. School was not his thing.
Dean watched as they went around the room. Finally, they got to him. "Dean, your word is pterodactyl," Mrs Clayton said.
Dean smiled. He actually knew that one. Sammy was in a dinosaur phase. "Pterodactyl," Dean repeated. "P-t-e-r-o-d-a-c-t-y-l, pterodactyl," he finished and gave the teacher his own smirk. Stupid witch probably thought he'd spell it t-e-r-a-d-a-c-t-i-l.
The teacher looked at him in surprise. "That's correct. Mitchell, can you spell silicon," she said, going onto the next student.
After the first round, about one third of the class had been eliminated. They started the second round. Dean, once again, was determined to blow the round.
"Dean, can you spell stethoscope," Mrs. Clayton asked.
Again, this was something Dean was familiar with. As a hunter-in-training, he was no stranger to hospitals. "Stethoscope. S-T-E-T-H-O-S-C-O-P-E, stethoscope."
"Cor... Correct," the teacher stammered.
Mrs. Clayton gave Dean 'tsunami' for his third word. His dad had made him study a legend about a water spirit that was said to cause them. Dean had decided to spell it right because he was having too much fun messing with his teacher's head.
By the fifth round, it was down to Dean and Elizabeth Watts, the teacher's pet.
"Dean and Elizabeth, this will be like a sudden death round. If one of you misses a word and the other spells theirs correctly, they will be the winner. These words are going to get a little bit harder. Elizabeth your word is slalom.
"S-l-a-l-a-m," Elizabeth answered.
Angela corrected her star pupil, a little disappointed that she had missed it. "Dean, your word is magnanimous."
"Pardon me?" Dean said.
"Magnanimous," the teacher repeated.
He was determined to get this right, suddenly wanting to put Elizabeth and Mrs. Clayton's noses out of joint. Okay, think Dean, he told himself. "Is it Latin?" Dean asked.
"Yes," Mrs. Clayton confirmed.
Dean thought back to his study sessions with Pastor Jim. "Is it taken from the Latin magnus, meaning great, and the Latin animus, meaning spirit?" Dean asked. He was sure that was right. He could remember Pastor Jim telling him that.
"That's correct," Mrs. Clayton said, surprised that Dean knew that.
Suddenly the word flashed into Dean's mind. "M-a-g-n-a-n-i-m-o-u-s."
The teacher once again looked at Dean in surprise. How the hell had he figured that out, she wondered.
"Very good, Mr. Winchester. Congratulations."
Dean couldn't help the sense of pride that washed over him. It was the first time he had ever won anything. "Does this mean I don't have to do any homework tonight?" he asked.
Mrs. Clayton shook her head. "No. Tomorrow we are going to have another bee and this one counts. The winner gets to represent our class at the school spelling bee in two weeks time. The winner of that will go on to the district finals. You'll need a top 10 finish in the district competition in order to qualify for the regionals and if you finish in the top three at the regionals, you'll earn a spot in the nationals, which will take place in the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, DC."
"Do we have to participate, Mrs. Clayton?" a boy named Tommy asked.
"Yes," Mrs. Clayton said. "Everyone will participate in the class bee. If you win, but are not interested in competing for a spot at nationals, you can let us know and the option will be given to the student who finished second, and so on."
"I want to participate, Mrs. Clayton," Elizabeth said as if her winning was a foregone conclusion.
Dean bit his tongue. He couldn't stand her, but Bobby wouldn't be pleased with him if he had to make an extra trip back to pick up Dean if he got detention.
"That's good, Elizabeth," Angela said with a smile. "Now, I have a list of words that we'll be using for the class and school bee. There are about 100 on there, so make sure you study hard. The circuit is very competitive."
The teacher handed out the lists and sent the class on their way. Dean stuffed it in his backpack and went to go meet his brother. He had no intention of doing extra homework.
"Hey Sammy, Dean," Bobby Singer greeted the two boys after school.
"Hi, Uncle Bobby," Sam greeted him enthusiastically.
Dean returned the greeting as he listened to Sammy tell Bobby about his day. He waited patiently for his turn to speak. He wanted to tell Bobby about winning the bee in class that day. Despite the nature of the competition, he was feeling kind of proud of himself.
"Hey, guess what, Uncle Bobby?" Sam said. "Our teacher said we have an assembly on Friday to watch the school spelling bee. What's that?" Sam asked.
"It's like a game where you have to spell words. Whoever spells the most right wins," Bobby explained.
"Can I play?" Sam asked, his excitement growing. "I'm a good speller. I got every word right on my last test."
"It's for people in middle school, Sammy. You're not old enough."
Sam pouted and crossed his arms over his chest.
Bobby glanced at the middle Winchester. "What about your class, Dean? Are they taking part?"
"Yeah," he confirmed. "They're making us. We did a practice round today, but tomorrow it counts."
"How'd you do?" Bobby asked. He guessed that Dean purposely misspelled the words to get out of it.
Bobby was surprised, but he hoped that he had done a good job of keeping his reaction off his face. He didn't want Dean to think that Bobby thought he couldn't do it.
"Yeah, Dean," Sammy cheered.
"Congratulations, son," Bobby said sincerely. "Did they give you a list of words to practice with?"
"Yup," Dean said.
"I'll help you study if you want," Bobby offered.
"It's okay. It's not my thing," Dean said.
"Okay, but if you change your mind, let me know. Oh, boys, one more thing. Pastor Jim's in town and will be joining us for dinner."
"Yeah," Sam cheered again. He loved Pastor Jim.
When they got home, the boys said hello to the Pastor, then Bobby had the boys do their assigned chores and when they'd finished, he took Dean to the salvage yard for a while. He knew that Dean loved learning about the engines. After that small break, Bobby instructed the boys to do their homework. Dean did his usual sloppy job and despite himself, he found himself drawn to the list of spelling words.
"What do you have there, Dean?" Pastor Jim asked as he entered the kitchen to get a cup of coffee.
"It's a list of words for a stupid spelling contest we're having," Dean replied.
"Dean came first in the one they had today," Sam announced proudly.
"That's great, Dean," Pastor Jim said sincerely. He had long suspected that Dean's poor showing in school was an act.
Dean shrugged as if it was no big deal. "It didn't mean anything."
"Are you in the one they have tomorrow?"
"They're making us," Dean explained. "It's stupid. I was just going to see if I can make a paper airplane with this," Dean said, indicating his word list.
"Let me see, Dean," Pastor Jim said and took the list from Dean's hands.
"Pastor Jim," Dean said in exasperation.
Bobby joined the others in the kitchen. Ever since Dean had mentioned the spelling bee, it had brought back a lot of memories for him. He had competed in several bees when he was younger, but he'd never made it to the nationals, just missing out. He hadn't competed in his last year of eligibility because he was too afraid of failing again, and it was something he had always regretted. He knew Dean had the potential to go far, but would he be willing to put the effort he needed into it, and more importantly, would John really leave the boys with him for the whole year. He hated the thought of Dean putting in the effort and not being able to compete because John had dragged him off for a hunt.
"Come on, Sam," Bobby said he shook himself out of his memories. "Help us quiz your brother."
"'Kay," Sam said agreeably.
"Bobby," Dean said again. "I can't do this."
"Why not? You're smart enough," Bobby retorted immediately.
"I don't want to," Dean insisted.
"Just for fun then. Look, I was in the spelling bee in the 7th and 8th grade. I made it to the regionals, where I finished 6th and 4th. I just missed the nationals. Come on, first one to 20 wins. I bet you can't beat me," Bobby challenged.
"That's not fair, Uncle Bobby," Sam said sticking up for his brother. "You're old."
"Old am I, runt?" Bobby said picking up Sam and tickling him, causing Sam to erupt in a fit of giggles.
"Help," Sam cried, looking toward his big brother.
"Okay," Dean said and started tickling Sammy along with Bobby. Pastor Jim just watched them all fondly. He loved seeing John's son's get to act like boys for a change.
Finally, Bobby stopped and put Sam down. "Okay, Dean, I'll give you an hour to look at the words and then I'll be back. I won't study them since I'm old," he said with a wink at Sam.
Dean knew he had no choice but to agree and as agreed, an hour later, Bobby showed up and sat down. Pastor Jim picked up the list and gave Dean the first word. "Abrasive," he said.
Dean spelled the word correctly and Pastor Jim asked Bobby to spell centaur.
It continued, Bobby and Dean keeping pace with each other until they were tied 19 to 19. Pastor Jim told Sam that he could pick the last two words. Bobby's was xanthosis and he spelled it with a Z. Dean took a bit of pleasure in correcting him.
"Okay, Dean, your word is chrysanthemum," Pastor Jim said.
"Jeez, Sammy, you would have to give me a chick word," Dean complained.
"Spell it, Dean," Sam encouraged.
"Um, C-h-r-y-s-a-n-t-h-e-m-u-m," Dean guessed.
"Dean wins," Pastor Jim said with a smile.
"Yeah, Dean," Sam said, giving his brother a high five.
Dean really considered playing sick the next day, but he knew that Bobby wouldn't believe him, so he dragged himself off to school. It didn't help matters that the first person he ran into was Elizabeth. She gave Dean a smug smile and informed Dean that she had studied every word and could spell them all. Dean wondered how she could have memorized all 100 words in one day. It seemed impossible to him.
Angela Clayton watched as her most troublesome student took his seat. She knew it wasn't fair, but she wanted Elizabeth to win. Winning the national bee was something that she had always wanted to do herself. She had made it to nationals when she was in the 8th grade, but was out in the first round when nerves got the better of her. She really felt that Elizabeth would do really well though, and that she would take it seriously, so she tried to give Elizabeth the easier words. She deliberately gave Dean the hardest words on the list, she had a feeling that Dean would blow it off as a big joke, so she was more than a little shocked when Dean spelled every word correctly. Once again, it came down to Elizabeth and Dean. Dean was taking it seriously because he really wanted to stick it to his teacher.
"Okay Elizabeth, your word is rottweiler."
Elizabeth was over confident and spoke without thinking. "R-o-t-t-w-i-e-l-e-r," Elizabeth said.
"I'm sorry, Elizabeth, that's not correct," Mrs. Clayton said, trying to keep the disappointment out of her tone.
"It's R-o-t-t-w-e-i-l-e-r," Dean said smugly.
"That is correct, Dean. Can you spell diocese?"
Dean smirked at Elizabeth. It paid to have a friend in the church. "D-i-o-c-e-s-e."
"Correct, Dean," she said stiffly, again trying to make sure the disappointment didn't come through in her voice. "You'll represent our class at the school bee, unless you don't want to," she said, this time trying not to sound hopeful.
Dean didn't want to. He was all set to refuse, but he could clearly see a look of hope that he wouldn't on the teacher's face and it made him mad. "I'll do it," he said, figuring he could just blow it then.
Sam was waiting for Dean outside his classroom, full of excitement, wanting to know how Dean had done in the bee. He immediately hugged his brother when Dean told him that he had won. He also didn't give Dean a chance to tell Bobby, because as soon as he saw the older man he blurted it out.
"Dean won, Uncle Bobby," Sam announced gleefully.
"Congrats, kid," Bobby said with a grin.
"Thanks, Bobby," Dean said as if was no big deal.
"He gets to compete in front to the whole school," Sam informed the elder mechanic.
Bobby looked at Dean. "You doin' this thing?"
"I guess," he said. He didn't feel it necessary to tell Bobby that he was planning to miss his first word on purpose.
"It's a lot of work, son. It means lots of extra studying, before and after school. It's a huge commitment," Bobby explained.
Dean's face fell. Didn't Bobby think he could do it either? Did they not think he was capable?
He felt little hands encircle him again. "Dean's gonna kick their butts."
The elder Winchester boy couldn't help but smile at his younger sibling. "Thanks Sammy," he said softly. He had needed that.
Bobby could see the change come over the boy. "Dean, I think you're smart enough to do well, but I just wanted you to know what you were letting yourself in for," Bobby said to correct Dean's misconceptions.
"Thanks Bobby," Dean offered shyly.
"Tell you what, I'll help you," Bobby offered. "You guys can even be excused from your chores and we'll start right now."
"Can I help too?" Sam wanted to know.
"I can't do this without you, little bro," Dean said and put his arm around his little brother.
The day of the school bee arrived. Dean couldn't ever remember working so hard in his life, which surprised him, since he was just participating to stick it to his teacher. Dean found that there was a lot more to it than just memorizing how to spell words. There were some he would have to memorize, but for the most part, he had to learn how to break words down to their roots, and that the origins of words could provide big clues. Bobby also informed Dean that he had a distinct advantage in that he had been studying Latin since he could read, and that most English words were derived from Latin.
"You ready?" Bobby asked his nervous protégé.
"I think so," Dean said. "I wish dad was here though." Dean wanted his father to see him compete, although he wasn't altogether sure how his father would react to this, or if he would even approve.
"He's proud of you just the same," Bobby said firmly. "Knock 'em dead today, kiddo."
Dean quickly took his seat at the front of the gymnasium. The whole school was there and it was making Dean even more nervous. He was glad he could see Sammy, though. His brother's belief in him gave him a big boost of confidence.
"Dean Winchester," he heard his name called.
Dean walked up to the microphone.
"You word is staphylococci," said a teacher from a pedestal in front of him.
Was it f or ph, he thought as the panic started to set in. He took a deep breath to get his nerves under control. "May I have the language of origin?"
"It's Greek," Dean was informed.
Dean relaxed. If the word was Greek, it meant it was a ph. "S-t-a-p-h-y-l-o-c-o-c-c-i," he spelled and looked at the judges. There was no bell ringing to indicate he had spelled it wrong, and the teacher confirmed that he had spelled it correctly and Dean went back to his seat. At least he had made it past the first round.
The next speller took his place at the front of the mike. Dean was beginning to wonder if the whole world was against him when he got the word knack.
An hour and a half later, it was down to Dean and another boy from the 8th grade named Greg Michaels.
"Greg, your word is placid."
"P-l-a-s-i-d," Greg said before really thinking about it.
Bing! A bell rang indicating the word was spelt wrongand Dean had to moved up to the mike as Greg walked dejectedly back to his own seat.
"Dean, we need you to spell the last word and then one of your own," the teacher informed him.
"Placid. P-l-a-c-i-d," Dean quickly spelled.
"Correct and for the win, 'euphoric'."
"Is it Greek?" Dean guessed.
"That's correct," he was informed.
"Euphoric, e-u-p-h-o-r-i-c. Euphoric."
"That's correct. Congratulations, Dean," the teacher said, and there was a hint of a smile in that voice although the teacher managed to keep his face straight.
Dean's whole face lit up when the audience started clapping for him, and it did Bobby's heart good to see John's eldest proud of himself for a change.
"Congratulations, Dean," the school principal said joining him on stage. "Would you like to represent the school at the district bee?"
Hell no, was his first thought. He was still wondering what had happened to his plan to throw the competition. He knew in his heart that the reason he had done his best was because Bobby had put a lot of time and effort into coaching him and he felt that anything less than his best would have been disrespectful to Bobby. "Yes," Dean said with determination and he was stunned. Where the hell had that come from? He was beginning to wonder if he was possessed.
Then he was given forms to fill out and there were pamphlets that explained all the rules, and where he had to finish to make it to the nationals, where, if he won, he'd get 10, 000. He suddenly had a strong desire to win the whole thing. He had to win.
Dean knew that money could keep his family going for months. Sammy could go to school wearing new clothes instead of hand-me-downs. He could get Sammy the cool light up sneakers that he wanted. His father could get the Impala overhauled and maybe his dad would buy him the new Metallica album.
It was going to be tough, Dean knew that, and he wasn't sure if he was smart enough to pull it off, but he would give everything he had for his family. He just hoped that Bobby would continue to coach him. He just hoped his dad would approve. He looked around for his brother and found him in the middle of a large group of kids.
"Did you see my brother?" he could hear Sam saying. "He got all the big words 'cause he knows everything." Dean could only smile as a warm glow filled his heart.
Bobby hugged him tight after the hall began to empty. "I'm so proud of you, boy," Bobby exclaimed.
"Thanks, man. What about the trip to Washington? How am I going to pay for that?"
"Don't worry, kiddo. That's what the sponsors are for. They'll pay your expenses and the bee gives you two tickets. I'm thinking me and Sammy can come and cheer you on."
"Do you think... uh, never mind," Dean said quickly dropping that line of thought. "Will you continue to coach me?" Dean asked instead.
Do you think dad would come? Bobby knew what Dean had wanted to ask. He just honestly wasn't sure. Like Dean, Bobby wasn't even sure if John would even let Dean compete. He was, however, going on the principle that it was easier to get forgiveness than permission. He was listed as the boys' uncle and he could sign the permission forms. He just hoped that John stayed true to his word about leaving the boys with him for the year, because he and Dean had a lot of work to do.
"'Course I'll coach you," Bobby said as if it shouldn't have even crossed Dean's mind.
If Dean thought studying for his school bee was hard work, it was nothing compared to preparing for the district and regional finals. There were several times when he almost quit, when he found himself getting frustrated and overwhelmed.
It was Sam that made the difference. No matter how flustered Dean got, his little brother was always there to cheer him on and make him think he may have a shot.
Eventually, all his hard work paid off when Dean placed 9th at the district bee and third at the regionals. He was on his way to the finals.
His confidence was a bit shaken that he had just managed to qualify, but Bobby refused to let him put himself down, reminding Dean of the thousands of kids who didn't even make it past their school bees, like Elizabeth. He was on his way to the nationals.
"Okay, Dean," Bobby said as they sat down at the table on the evening Dean had qualified for nationals. "We have to get started. These are for you," Bobby said and pushed four big boxes at Dean.
"What are these?" Dean asked as he lifted the lid and looked inside. He found several flashcards. Each one had a different word on it, along with the language of origin and definition.
"I even made sure that they're spelled phonetically, so that Sammy can help you study if I'm busy."
"Thanks, Bobby. How many are there?"
"Pardon me?" Dean said.
"There's 4000 words that we have to study."
"I can't learn 4000 words," Dean said, his confidence starting to erode once again.
"Just use the techniques we've been working on. Break the big words down to little words, and work on the memorization techniques you've learned. Remember, the language of origin can give you a big clue for suffixes and prefixes, so just remember those rules," Bobby encouraged.
"But Bobby, it's 4000 words," Dean protested. "I don't think I want to do this anymore."
"Dean, son, I want you to listen to me, Bobby said seriously. "Even if you're the first one out of the competition, you have to remember you're one of a lucky 200 out of thousands who couldn't get that far. I just want you to do your best, and the most important thing you need to remember is that win, lose, or draw, I'm proud of you, Sammy's proud of you and your daddy's proud too."
"Besides, you can't lose, Dean. You know everything," Sam informed his brother with a look of absolute faith in his eyes.
"Not everything, Sammy," Dean said with a small grin.
"Okay, Dean, one word at a time. Let's start with... Gabbro," Bobby said as he pulled a card out of the box.
"Definition?" Dean said with a sigh.
"A dark, course grained, igneous rock," Bobby said.
They had been hard at work for a couple of hours when they heard the familiar rumble of the Impala pulling up in the driveway.
This is two chapters, and chapter 2 is complete. It will be posted in a couple of days. Please read and review and let me know what you thought.
This story was inspired after I watched Akeelah and the Bee and I just had to attempt to write it. The title is National Spelling Bee in Latin, although I used an online latin translator so I'm not sure how accurate it is